An organization to represent all Germany’s Jews
The prime concern of the men and women who founded the Central Council of Jews in Germany was to promote and foster religious and cultural activities within local Jewish communities and to provide advocacy for the common political interests of the Jewish community as a whole. That has remained the case ever since. Jews in Germany extend particular solidarity to Israel, where many Shoa survivors made their new home.
In the early years, the Jewish communities that had just begun to re-establish themselves were busy coping with the consequences of the Nazi period, founding or reviving synagogues and community centres. One pivotal task for the Central Council during that initial phase was to ensure that the Federal German government adopted legislation on compensating the Jewish population. Today, apart from representing Jewish interests to the German government, one priority for the Central Council is to help Jewish immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union to find their feet in German society. One important aspect of this work is to build Jewish communities in the new, eastern states of Germany. The Central Council has focused here on providing support in the form of vocational training seminars, language courses, political education, religious instruction and other integration measures.
The Central Council also plays an active role in German political and public life. One vital focus of this work is to promote understanding and mutual respect between Jews and Gentiles.
On the international stage the Central Council has forged close links with the Jewish community in Europe and around the world. This includes working in partnership with Jewish communities in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This is where the great majority of Europe’s Jews now live and in the context of the European Union these contacts are of particular importance.
The Central Council has founded a number of organizations and institutions to support the Jewish communities at a supraregional level:
- the Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle, the welfare organization founded for Jews all over Germany in 1917
- the Conference of Rabbis
- the Central Archives for Research on the History of the Jews in Germany
- the College of Jewish Studies in Heidelberg, which is dedicated to research, to training education workers and new staff members for Jewish organization and, more recently, to training rabbis for the Jewish communities in Germany
- the Jüdische Allgemeine, a weekly newspaper which offers broad, independent reporting on Jewish life in Germany and around the globe
- an arbitration panel and administrative court for the Central Council
- the women’s association Bund jüdischer Frauen in Deutschland
- the students’ organization Bundesverband jüdischer Studenten
- the sports’ association MAKKABI Deutschland e. V.