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Cablegate: Renaissance of Jewish Life Continues in Berlin

VZCZCXRO2727
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHRL #1704 2531240
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101240Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9230
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0537
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0133

UNCLAS BERLIN 001704

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: GM PGOV PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: RENAISSANCE OF JEWISH LIFE CONTINUES IN BERLIN

1. Summary: Two new synagogues opened in Berlin, marking
the revitalization of Jewish life in the former center of the
Nazi Third Reich. The Lubavitch (Hassidic) Jewish
Educational Center was inaugurated on September 2, two days
after the opening of the newly renovated and historic
Rykestrasse Synagogue. The openings of both synagogues were
attended by numerous dignitaries, including the former chief
rabbi of Israel and Holocaust survivors. Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Ambassador Timken attended the
dedication of the Jewish Educational Center, which itself was
the object of a failed fire-bombing attempt earlier this
year. Some observers stated that the unveiling of these
synagogues demonstrates the resilience of the Jewish
community in Germany, which looks to the construction of
these synagogues as proof of the failure of Adolf Hitler's
"final solution." End summary.

2. Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, the driving force behind the
construction of the Jewish Educational Center, noted that the
educational center is the first in Germany to be built
exclusively with private funding. He stressed that the
center will strengthen the Jewish community in Berlin.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier began his speech by welcoming the
revitalized Jewish community in Berlin, stating that "whoever
builds a house, stays." He underlined that Germany hopes
that Judaism will resume its rightful role as a key element
of German society, despite the ongoing problem of
anti-Semitism.

3. The Rykestrasse Synagogue is Germany's largest Jewish
temple. It first opened in 1904, serving the poorest of
Berlin's Jewish residents. It was destroyed by fire, and its
Torah was desecrated, on Kristallnacht (Night of Broken
Glass) in 1938. The building was taken over by the German
Army during the Second World War and used as a textile
factory, then was returned to the Jewish community at the end
of the war. Religious services have been held in the
synagogue ever since, but only now has it been restored to
its original state. The highlight of the Rykestrasse
Synagogue's reopening was a speech by Rabbi Ernst Stein, who
was rabbi at this synagogue before and during the Holocaust.
Rabbi Stein expressed joy that the synagogue was rebuilt "in
the land where Jews were murdered, humiliated, debased, and
slandered."

4. Comment: The openings of these synagogues, timed to
occur just before Rosh Hashanah, come at a time when Germany
is increasingly multicultural, but still afflicted by
anti-Semitism. Right-extremism remains a serious problem in
Germany, as the September 7 stabbing of a rabbi in Frankfurt
and much-publicized incidents in Halberstadt and Muegeln
demonstrate. Nonetheless, the Jewish community appears firm
in its resolve to reenergize Jewish life in Germany. End
comment.
TIMKEN JR

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