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Jewish Berlin Today
As the city continues to grapple with the past, important steps toward celebrating Jewish history and welcoming a new generation of Jews to Berlin are in the making.
Somber monuments have been built in memory of victims of the Holocaust and National Socialism. An especially poignant but soft-spoken tribute is the collection of Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) found all over Berlin, imbedded into sidewalks in front of the Pre-Holocaust homes of Berlin Jews, commemorating former residents simply with names and dates. German artist Gunter Demnig has personally installed these tiny memorials in big cities and small towns across Germany and Austria.
The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation has gone a step further. Along with Lauder Yeshurun, Berlin's Jewish communities have been further strengthened by building housing for Jews in the city center, founding a Yeshiva, a Rabbinical school, and offering special services for returning Jews.
It's difficult to say how many Jews live in Berlin today, but an official estimate puts the number at 22,000-27,000. About 12,000 members of the Jewish community are practicing Jews, mostly from the former Soviet Union, who belong to one of several synagogues, in addition to about 10,000-15,000 Israeli Jews. These numbers don't include the secular and religious Jews who wish to remain anonymous in the German capital.
The government supports Jewish businesses and organizations with funding, keeps close ties with important members of the community, and, perhaps most visibly, provides 24-hour police protection in front of any Jewish establishment that requests it. Two recent events proved that Jewish Berlin is thriving once again. On November 4, 2010, three young rabbis were ordained at the Pestalozzi Strasse synagogue, the first ceremony of its kind to occur in Berlin since before the Holocaust. Also in 2010, Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and the president of the German Jewish Council, showed the ultimate faith in Germany's recovery and reparation efforts by declaring the country "once again a homeland for Jews."Updated: 05-2013
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