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!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • 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.