Germany is giving more state benefits to the Central Council of Jews in Germany for the first time since 2011, which will also help combat anti-Semitism, according to Israel National News.
In a joint statement issued last Friday, Central Council President Josef Schuster and the federal minister of the interior for building and community, Horst Seehofer, announced that the annual state support for the Jewish umbrella organization would be raised from 10 million euros to 13 million euros, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Seehofer’s concern focused on “the rise in anti-Semitism in our society,” according to the Central Council that “faces increasing challenges” that the funding will help meet. “Whoever threatens our Jewish citizens threatens all of us,” Seehofer said.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Schuster, who emphasizes school-based programs to fight anti-Semitism, called it “a good day for Germany’s Jewish community.”
The news happens as anti-Jewish incidents in Germany are on the rise, both from the far right and by Muslims. There have been calls for increased attention to fighting anti-Semitism in schools, especially since 2015, when more than a million refugees of Arab Muslim background entered Germany, according to the Israel National News.
The Central Council remained cautious and expressed concern that some of the refugees may subscribe to anti-Semitism, homophobia and misogyny, according to Israel National News.
Germany researchers almost always find that a quarter of the population holds anti-Semitic views, with people in the right wing committing the most related crimes. Rates of anti-Semitic episodes in Germany have remained more or less constant since 2003, according to Israel National News.
The Central Council acts as an umbrella for approximately 80 Jewish communities of an array of Jewish denominations. It supports cultural and social programs, such as the continued integration of the former Soviet Jews who have moved to Germany since 1990. There are currently about 100,000 registered members of Jewish communities and about the same number who are not affiliated, including several thousand Israelis, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In 2003, Germany signed its first contract with the Central Council, which made it like Catholic and Protestant communities with the legal power they wield. The government pledged 3 million euros annually to help the Jewish community meet its infrastructural needs back then, which since increased to 5 million euros in 2008 and 10 million in 2011, Israel National News reports..
According to Friday’s statement, the increased funding will enable the Central Council to expand its work in the areas of Jewish integration, the fight against anti-Semitism and promotion of Holocaust remembrance, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
By: Linda Hofstadler
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