Beginning in the 1980s, the Soviet Union began allowing a trickle of Jewish families to emigrate to Germany. With the collapse of Communism, that trickle became a flood.
seminar2Jews relocated here because Germany, recognizing its historic responsibility and the weight of the past, offered them generous resettlement support. The government provided benefits including fast track citizenship, medical care, language lessons, job training and a free first-class education for their children, from elementary school through university.
If the new arrivals had settled in a few major cities, matters would have been simpler. But the federal government, trying to spread the welfare burden of supporting so many new immigrants, sent them to scores of cities and towns throughout the country. While this made economic sense to the government, it created enormous obstacles for building viable Jewish communities. Many young Jews in Germany today thus have little or no Jewish contact at all.
The situation is no less critical in larger cities with established communities, where teenagers and young adults—busy with learning a new language, going to school, getting a job—fall through the cracks unnoticed. The challenge is immense; how can these young Jews, who were raised in the atheistic Soviet Union, suddenly start building a Jewish life when they are spread throughout a large country where the Jewish communities are overburdened and understaffed?
And yet, an additional challenge faces us. Beyond the problems of today loom the horrors of the past. How, many have asked us, can a Jewish future be created in the land of the perpetrators?
Our answer: Germany now has over 120,000 Jews. We can neither judge nor change this. There is only one task incumbent upon us: to help them in every way we can.