top of page

On the occasion of January 27, 2024

Seventy-nine years after the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, anti-Semitism is on the rise again in Germany. Synagogues are protected by structural measures and therefore remain closed. Police protect Jewish events. Jews avoid external attributes in order not to be recognizable as Jews. Jewish students don't dare go to school. Anti-Semitic hate messages are increasing on the Internet. Tens of thousands of demonstrators show solidarity with the Palestinians, including many who support Hamas' goal of destroying Israel and all Jews. Despite all the efforts of civil society, the churches, the federal government (23 million euros in 2023 alone) and many other actors: Jews in Germany feel more threatened than ever.


Anti-Semitic (and other right-wing extremist and racist) incidents are systematically collected and evaluated by the RAA Sachsen (https://www.raa-sachsen.de/). This also shows that the number of incidents is increasing. In contrast, previous efforts, which have focused primarily on imparting knowledge about Jews or conspiracy theories, have shown only inadequate results, if any. The assumption that more knowledge leads to less anti-Semitism is little more than an assumption. In any case, the efforts have no influence on the fact that anti-Semitism is promoted by social tensions, which has been known for around a century. “Making Jewish life visible,” as politicians often demand, is certainly to be welcomed – whether it makes a contribution to combating anti-Semitism is questionable.


Picture of lighting the first hanukka light in Dresden 2023
Public lighting of the first Hanukkah candle on December 7th, 2023 by Chabad Lubawitsch Dresden.

Was können wir tun?

Auch wenn davon keine Wunder zu erwarten sind: Ich schlage vor, viel mehr als bisher gemeinsame Aktivitäten von Juden und Nichtjuden zu organisieren. Damit soll auch verhindert werden, dass Juden zu “Anschauungsobjekten” degradiert werden, wie es z.B. bei Gottesdienstbesuchen oder Synagogenführungen leicht geschieht. Hier ist auch mehr Ehrlichkeit gefragt: Die wenigsten Juden sind an Gottesdiensten interessiert; Gottesdienstbesuche oder Synagogenführungen vermitteln kaum wirkliches jüdisches Leben.


What can we do?

Even if no miracles are to be expected from this: I propose to organize much more joint activities between Jews and non-Jews than before. This is also intended to prevent Jews from being reduced to “objects for observation,” as easily happens, for example, when attending church services or taking tours of synagogues. More honesty is also required here: very few Jews are interested in church services; Attendance at church services or tours of synagogues hardly convey real Jewish life.


Suggestions for inspiration and discussion

  • Public invitations to participate in celebrations such as Hanukkah or Purim, Passover. Joint preparations, e.g. painting/crafts, preparing food, designing the room...

  • Public invitations to Shabbat celebrations; Getting to know the service and then an evening “among friends”. Here too, participation in the preparations.

  • Regular mutual invitations, e.g. from leisure facilities, from young people from church communities, from students, to public events.

  • A first step in this direction would be an event calendar that lists and invites public events from all Jewish communities in Dresden. This calendar of events could be advertised at schools/institutions and on social networks.

  • Regular and long-term contact between individual young people and community members. Possibly “sponsorships” between individual students and community members, e.g. for learning German or for other support.

  • Inclusion of Jews in school project work. The goal should be for students to get to know Jews in their everyday lives over a longer period of time. A “hook” for this could be a project topic.

  • Collaboration with other social groups; for example, with church communities when looking for housing or looking after those in need.


What contribution can civil society make?

The engagement of civil society is an important prerequisite for implementing the above suggestions:

  • I see the most important task as establishing contacts with schools/youth groups etc.

  • Assist with public relations for community events


What does civil society gain by supporting Jewish communities?

Through collaboration, Jews and non-Jews get to know each other. Personal relationships develop, and thus experiences with real Jews.


Final note

The suggestions may seem naive. Its implementation requires the cooperation of many Jews and also requires the commitment of Dresden's Jewish communities. Well over a thousand Jews are registered in the Dresden communities. If it is possible to get only 5% of Jews interested in such projects, then - given the existing anti-Semitism and the relatively unsuccessful efforts so far - at least a different approach should be tried.

Comentarios


bottom of page