02.06.2009

Ansprache von Ronald S. Lauder

Präsident des jüdischen Weltkongresses, anlässlich der Ordination des Rabbinerseminars zu Berlin in der Ohel Jakob Synagoge in München am 2. Juni 2009

DISTINGUISHED RABBIS,
MINISTER SCHÄUBLE,
FRAU PRESIDENT KNOBLOCH,
HERR KRAMER,
DEAR FRIENDS,

IT WOULD BE HARD TO MAKE THIS UP, IF IT WERE NOT TRUE.

TODAY WE ARE HERE TO WITNESS AN HISTORICAL EVENT. BUT IN TRUTH, IT IS NOT THE EVENT ITSELF WHICH IS TRULY HISTORIC, IT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE EVENT.

MY INVOLVEMENT IN THIS STORY BEGINS A LONG TIME AGO.

TWO DECADES HAVE PASSED SINCE I OPENED A JEWISH SCHOOL IN BUDAPEST.

TEN YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE I SUPPORTED THE CREATION OF A TORAH CENTER IN LEIPZIG.

I DID NOT KNOW THEN THAT EACH OF THESE ACTS, IMPORTANT ON THEIR OWN, WOULD BRING ME HERE TODAY TO GIVE HONOR TO TWO YOUNG JEWISH LEADERS OF THE FUTURE, ONE FROM BUDAPEST AND ONE FROM LEIPZIG.

LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE MORE OF THIS STORY.

ZSOLT, SHORTLY TO BE KNOWN AS RABBINER BALLA, DISCOVERED HE WAS JEWISH WHEN HE WAS NINE YEARS OLD. WITH THE SUPPORT OF HIS PARENTS, HE ENROLLED IN THE LAUDER YAVNE SCHOOL IN BUDAPEST AND BEGAN ATTENDING OUR JEWISH SUMMER CAMP IN SZARVAS, HUNGARY.

ZSOLTS LEADERSHIP ABILITY WAS APPARENT EARLY ON AND HE BECAME THE HEAD COUNSELOR OF THE CAMP, NO SMALL ACCOMPLISHMENT IN A CAMP WITH TWO THOUSAND PARTICIPANTS EACH SUMMER.

AFTER COMPLETING UNIVERSITY ZSOLT DECIDED TO STUDY JUDAISM INTENSIVELY. THIS LED HIM TO BERLIN AND TO OUR YESHIVA. THREE YEARS LATER, HE BECAME THE FIRST STUDENT TO ENROLL IN THE RABBINICAL SEMINARY.

AVRAHAM, SOON TO BECOME RABBI RADBIL, WAS A TEENAGER IN LEIPZIG WHEN WE FIRST ENCOUNTERED HIM. HE STARTED VISITING THE YOUTH CENTER OF THE LEIPZIG GEMEINDE, WHICH WE PROUDLY SUPPORT, AND SOON BECAME A REGULAR AT OUR CAMPS AND SEMINARS.

AVRAHAM THEN MOVED TO BERLIN TO COMPLETE HIGH SCHOOL AT THE GYMNASIUM OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF BERLIN, AND TO STUDY AT THE YESHIVA. HE BECAME THE NEXT TO ENROLL IN THE RABBINICAL SEMINARY.

AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, I FEEL VERY CONNECTED TO THIS STORY AND TO THESE TWO YOUNG RABBIS.


AFTER ALL, THEY FOUND THEIR WAY TO JUDAISM THROUGH THE FOUNDATION AND BY EXTENSION- THROUGH ME.

HOWEVER, I KNOW THAT THIS STORY, AND THE RABBINICAL SEMINARY, AND THESE YOUNG RABBIS- NONE OF THIS BELONGS TO ME.

I HAVE DONE MY PART, TOGETHER WITH MY FRIENDS AND PARTNERS AT THE ZENTRALRAT, AND I CAN NOW SAY-

WHAT A STORY, WHAT A WONDERFUL INSTITUTION, WHAT TERRIFIC YOUNG RABBIS- TAKE THEM, THEY ARE YOURS.

AFTER ALL, THE RABBINICAL SEMINARY IS AND NEEDS TO BE A GERMAN INSTITUTION, SUPPORTED FINANCIALLY AND MORALLY BY THOSE IN THIS COUNTRY WITH A STAKE IN ITS JEWISH FUTURE.

WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT YOU, BUT WE CARE ENOUGH FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT YOUR FINEST HOUR WILL COME WHEN YOU NO LONGER NEED HELP FROM OUTSIDE.

LET ME SHARE WITH YOU A FINAL THOUGHT.
IN MY ROLE AS PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS, I SPEND A LOT OF TIME WORRYING ABOUT, AND TRYING TO DEAL WITH, EXISTENTIAL THREATS TO THE JEWISH PEOPLE. IT IS HARD TO BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE SUCH THREATS AFTER MUCH OF THE WORLD COMMITTED TO THE WORDS "NEVER AGAIN", BUT IT IS SO.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO WOULD ANNIHILATE US, EVEN TODAY. SOME SAY THESE ARE EMPTY THREATS. WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, HOWEVER, NEVER TO ASSUME THAT THREATS OF THIS NATURE ARE EMPTY ONES.

I MUST ADMIT THAT THIS IS DISPIRITING AT TIMES. WHAT HOPE CAN WE HAVE WHEN CONFRONTED BY SUCH ENEMIES, SO DETERMINED TO FIGHT US?

BUT TODAY GIVES ME STRENGTH. AND IT SHOULD GIVE ALL OF US STRENGTH. THE FATE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IS NOT IN THE HANDS OF OUR ENEMIES. IT IS IN THE HANDS OF GOD AND IN OUR OWN HANDS.
THERE IS NO BETTER PROOF OF THAT THAN TODAYS HISTORICAL EVENT.

THANK YOU.

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