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!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • 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.