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January 17, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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January 17, 2003

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H EERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 17, 2003 PAGE 13 likelyl L" lberal Jews fight for recognition in Germany Ine, Ali~ ordf By Toby Axelrod to be named in the contract, means of bringing them to- his Je~ SpiegeltoldJTAthecoun- ward full membership as ~roba~BERLIN (JTA)--A long- cil would not exclude any converts, said a spokesper- n agaii simmering internecine Jew- Jewish group from member- son. n brl ish battle in Germany is boil ship - and therefore funding According to a Progres- ~sour~ingover. - as long as its members meet sive Union spokesperson, quic~ Saying they have been the requirements of there are about 2,000 mem- havetishut out of official Jewish halachah, or Jewish law. bersin 15 Progressive Union life here, progressive Jews Spiegel said a progressive congregations in Germany. in Germany have intensified congregation in Lower Excluding the members of efforts to gain recognition and funding with an open plea to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. In a letter released at a Jerusalem news conference on Jan. 7, Uri Regev, execu- tive director of the World Union for Progressive Juda- Saxony had applied for mem- the Progressive Union, there bership in the Central Coun- are some 100,000 Jews in cil. The application will be Germany, and 83 congrega- considered at the next meet- tions serving them. ing of the board, he said. In 1998, the Reform "We have to be convinced movement's Central Confer- - as always - that the mere- ence of American Rabbis bers of these communities passed a resolution decry- are Jews, based on halachah, ing what it called "discrimi- We don't want the Society nation" against Reform for Christian-Jewish Coop- groups "by the organized eration to become members Jewish community virtually of the Central Council," he everywhere" in Germany. said. The group called on the The letter to Schroeder is German government and of- part of a three-pronged ficials of the Jewish com- battle in which the World munities to support plural- Union, with some 2 million ism and end discrimination members worldwide, and its in funding for Progressive German affiliate are pressur- Jewish congregations. ing the German government In 2002, the Progressive and American Reform Jewry, Union in Germany tested the and through them, the Ger- courts, withas-yet-inconclu- man Jewish establishment sive results. A congregation that they say refuses to ac- in the former East German cept them. city of Halle, which belongs Some observers see the to the Progressive Union but battle as long overdue, her- chose not to join the Central alding the return of liberal Council, sued for a share of munity. Judaism to the country of the state subsidies distrib- The move Comes as its birth. The Reform move- uted by the council. Accord- Schroeder prepares to sign ment has its roots in mid- ing to Germany shighestad- a historic contract with the 19th century Germany. ministrative court, the con- Central Council of Jews in But critics see this as an gregation did not seek arbi- Germany, pledging an an- attempt by asmall group to tration with the Central nual $3 million of support establish itself outside the Council before suing. for the Jewish community, umbrella of the CentralIn February 2002, the The signing of the contract Council, thereby layinghigh court sent the claim is scheduled for Jan. 27, claim to government subsi- back to a lower court to de- Holocaust Memorial uay m dies to religious groups, cidewhether thiswasareli- Germany. They say such a split is de- gious organization worthy The established Jewish structive and unnecessary, of state funding and to de- ism, urged the German leader "to address the needs and the entitlements of the Union der Progressiven Juden in Deutschland and the communities and insti- tutions it represents." There has been as yet no response from the Schroeder govern- ment to the letter, Shmuel Bahagon, executive director of the Union for Progressive Judaism in Germany, told JTA. The fight highlights a battle between liberal Juda- ism and Germany's tradi- tional Jewish officials in what has been the world's fastest-growing Jewish corn- not get involved with the in- ternal affairs of religious groups. Regev told JTA he was en- couraged by positive meet- ings with Paul Spiegel and Central Council Director Stefan Kramer in the fall. "I would not have jumped the gun if it had not been for the surprise announcement about the federal contract," he said. "I would have al- lowed more time for this to take its course. But we were forced to move." Move There's No Home Like and McmoQ' Cm'c 24-Hour Nursing A~istance Widl All Penoaal Care Medication Managen~nt Full Activity Calendar Housekeeping & Linen Service Secured Exits & Winder Pidu For Alzheimer's Re~ident~ Day & Overnight Respite Private & Companion Suites from the ordinary the Art of Available in small, medium & large 501 N. Orlando Avenue, Suite #139 Winter Park (Kmart Shopping Center accross the street from Winter Park Village) Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10am-6pm; Sun. 10am-2pm ~Ommunity is celebrating as long as the members of termine whether the ~ne pending federal contract, the Progressive movements congregation s claim was ut representatives of the meet traditional,standards purely financial. Union of Progressive Juda- of"who is a Jew.' The Cen- No decision has yet been tsm in Germany are crying tral Council, created after reached. foul. World War II, is designed to In recent weeks, follow- The problem is that the be inclusive. But unlike in ing the November an- contract does not clearly in- clude the Progressive move- ment, which also needs funding to support programs and to attract new members, Regev says. In his letter, he says, "the anticipated contract has to make explicit reference to the Progressive Union and the COmmunities affiliated With it." But Central Coun- cil President Paul Spiegel Ssaid the COuncil includes all rreams of Judaism, so ~P:d cific movements don t n America, the German model nouncement of the new gov- isan umbrella thatonly cov- ernment contract with the ers those defined as Jewish German Jewishcommunity, according to Jewish law. leaders of the World Union Most European Progressive and its American affiliate, movements abide by matri- the Union of American He- linealdescent, buttheirpoli- brew Congregations, have cies on conversion to Juda- pressed their case in all the ism do not meet Jewish le- German consulates in the gal standards. United States, as well as the Though it does not accept German embassies in Wash- non-Jews as members, the ington and Tel Aviv. Progressive movement en- In each instance, they courages non-Jewish have been told that the Ger- spouses and children to par- man government is sympa- ticipate in religious life as a thetic to their cause but does Lion of Judah luncheon w in memory of Harriet Ginsburg, a true woman of valor, the Lion of Judah luncheon IlltakeplaceatthehomeofDiane Ginsburgon Thursday, Jan.23, at11:30a.m. Diane is CO-chairing the event with Sharon Ginsbury and Marcie Katzen. The group welcomes two Kramer and Nina new "Lions," Hope Oppenheim. nown here if-r) are Lions BETTY MONROE, SUSAN BIERMAN and ANITA HARA. Specializing in Thai and Japanese Food Sushi Sake Beer "." Wine P I I I I I I I L mmimsnmnlmmlmlmmmm Expires 1/31/03 Imll~ I I I I I I I Store Hours: 11:00 am - 2:30 Lunch -- Mon-Thurs 5:00 pm - 9:00 Dinner -- Mon-Thurs 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm Dinner -- Fri, Sat & Sun 407-834-5743 Altamonte Forum Center 745 Orienta Avenue, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701