Berlin's Jews Feud Amid Financial Chaos and Internal Strife

Fistfights and Power Struggles Divide Growing Community

All’s Not Well: Berlin’s Jewish community is thriving and it’s more diverse and accepted than ever. So why is the main community group imploding amid power struggles and fiscal strife?
getty images
All’s Not Well: Berlin’s Jewish community is thriving and it’s more diverse and accepted than ever. So why is the main community group imploding amid power struggles and fiscal strife?

By Donald Snyder

Published June 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The future of Germany’s largest organized Jewish community is in question following a cutoff in its government support and a high-profile brawl that put its dysfunction on public display.

The Berlin municipal government has terminated its subsidy to the city’s Juedische Gemeinde, or Jewish community, citing the community’s failure to properly document its budget needs. The city’s annual subsidy to the community, which has 10,000 registered members, is more than $7.3 million.

The city government requested a list of the community’s estimated 300 employees and their salaries as part of the budget calculation. But when its request was not fulfilled, the city suspended payment.

“The city has had to draw a line, and I’m sure that all around there is regret that it has come to this,” said Rabbi Josh Spinner, executive vice president and CEO in Berlin of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.

Gideon Joffe
getty images
Gideon Joffe

City spokesman Gunter Kolodziej told the Forward: “We know about the high value of Jewish life in the capital. The city is in talks with the Jewish community in order to quickly and constructively solve the current financial questions.”

Some members of the Jewish community question why the community leadership has not given Berlin what it wants.

“This community is almost totally dependent on the money of the state, and you don’t spoil your relationship with your biggest donor,” said Sergey Lagodinsky, a lawyer and part of the community’s 21-member representative assembly.

But the leader of the Juedische Gemeinde rejected the city’s claims.

“They have all they need,” chairman Gideon Joffe told the Forward when asked about the community’s failure to deliver the requested information to the Berlin government.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Aren’t you shvitzing in that?" http://jd.fo/b49Cq To the non-Orthodox, Hasidic clothing looks unbearably hot. But does focusing on someone else’s discomfort reflect our own discomfort with religious dress?
  • An Israel diplomat responds to J.J. Goldberg's stunning revelations about what sparked Gaza was. Is it really 'naive' to report that Hamas was not to blame for teens' kidnappings — or that Israel's own lies forced it to launch onslaught?
  • The origins of Yiddish, part tsvey: Did Yiddish start in the Rhine Valley? http://jd.fo/g4J3F
  • Josh Nathan-Kazis' epic tale of family ambition and failure in Maine is the first in our project to cover 50 states in 50 weeks. What Jewish stories should we cover in your state?
  • “And why should there be Hebrew? I’m not Jewish, I’m a Subbotnitsa.” In 2006, 13 of the 30,000 inhabitants of Sevan, Armenia, were Subbotniks. Now, there are only 10 left: thttp://jd.fo/b4BPI
  • Sigal Samuel started their Dixie road trip in Birmingham, Alabama, where the cab driver has a Bible on his seat and tells them his daddy taught him to respect the Jews. They're sure 'nuff feeling 'chosen' http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/201953/feeling-chosen-in-alabama/?
  • Why Jewish artists continue to be inspired by the Bible: http://jd.fo/q4PRh
  • When filmmaker Nasya Kamrat sought for a way to commemorate the story of her grandfather, a Polish Holocaust survivor, she had an unusual idea: use his paintings for an animated Holocaust documentary. http://jd.fo/p4RGf
  • As part of the Forward's 50-state project, Anne Cohen and Sigal Samuel are setting out on a journey through Dixie. To get you in the mood, here’s a brief history of Jewish road trips: http://jd.fo/q4RYl
  • "1. Sex. She had it. She liked it. She didn’t make a big deal of it." What were your favorite Elaine moments on Seinfeld?
  • "Mamie Eisenhower had one, and if you came of age during the 1950s, chances are you had one, too. I’m referring to the charm bracelet, that metallic cluster of miniaturized icons that hung from, and often strained, the wrist of every self-respecting, well-dressed woman in postwar America." Do you have charm bracelet memories? Share them with us!
  • How the Gaza War started — and how it can end:
  • This could be the first ancient synagogue mosaic to feature a non-biblical narrative.
  • "Suddenly we heard a siren, but it was very faint. We pulled the kids out of the pool, and then we heard a big boom."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.