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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NL:WS, NOVEMBER 20, 2009 PAGE 13A By Toby Axelxod BERLIN (JTA)--One of the most remarkable transforma- tions in Europe since the fall of communism is the return of Jewish life in the country that generated the Holocaust. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago, postwar Jewish life in Germany was "more a museum piece than something living," said Kuf Kaufmann, who emigrated here from Russia in 1990 and now heads the Jewish com- munity in Leipzig. "Today it is very lively--socially, reli- giously and culturally." In 1989, Germany had only about 30,000 Jews. Then the doors to the east opened and about 220,000 people of Jewish lineage from the former Soviet republics poured in, about half of whom were Jewish by matrilineal descent, accord- ing to a new report by the Central Council of Jews in Germany. The immigrants sought economic opportu- nities and an escape from Toby Axelrod Renat Fischbach stands outsMe the Jeu,ish commu- nity center in West Berlin. has transformed Germany's Jewish community, it also has brought with it the need for more rabbis, outreach to unaffiliated Jews and ques- tions about how to deal with Russian immigrants who are not Jewish .according to halachah, or Jewish law, but want to be part of the Jewish community. Kuf Kaufmann, head of the Leipzig Jewish community, ceremony in 2005 in Leipzig, Germany. anti-Semitism, and theyIn Germany, as in most of chose Germany over Israel. Europe, even Reform congre- In all, about 90,000 of the gations adhere to Orthodox immigrants registered as halachah when it comes to membersofGermany'sJewish the question of who is a Jew. communities, quadrupling "We have to learn from the country'spre-1989 Jewish them, to better understand population, them," Rabbi Joel Berger, the Lala Suesskind, president formerchiefrabbiofWurttem- of Berlin's Jewish community, berg, said in the report issued sees in the immigrants parai- by Germany's Jewish umbrella lels to her parents' experience group. "We have to work to- as refugees from the Soviet getheractivelytopreserveour interior in 1947. traditions. There's no room for "At first they did not feel passivity and pessimism." great because they did not Some worry that Ger- speakthe language.And then many's Jewish institutions they got jobs, and then they are failing to ensure that the joined the Jewish commu- numeric boost to the Jewish nity, and then their children community will be enough decided, 'This is my town,'" to ensure a future threatened Suesskind said. by assimilation. "It is the same with our "Cultural identity cannot people arriving today," she last more than one genera- said. The older generations tion," said Julia Itin, 24, who may have trouble adjusting, came to Dortmund from but their children and grand- Odessa, Ukraine in 2000, after children "are all part of our firstgoingtoIsrael."Theyhave Jewish life in Berlin."to add in a bit of religion, in The influx of immigrants anyform,"shesays, otherwise ended in 2005, when Get- many "will be lost to the Jew- many adopted new rules on ish people." immigration that made it Itin, now a university re- more difficult for would-be searcher and teacher, has immigrants. The move came become involved with Jewish in part due to pressure from causes, volunteering for the Israel, which saw Germany as Limmud Jewish educational a competitor for immigrants festival in Germany. from the former Soviet Union. Similarly, Renat Fischbach, While the immigration 28, who arrived from Czer- nowitz, Ukraine in 1990, dis- covered a Jewish youth center and later founded a debating club for Jewish youth called Jewbating. Fischbach said he "always felt more aligned with the smart Russian kids than with the established German fami- lies. And in 10 years, these are going to be the minds who lead the community." Sipping black currant tea at the Baku cafe in Berlin, Svet- lanaAgronik, who coordinates Russian social and educational programs for Berlin's Jewish community, recalls how she came here in 1991. "Life had been good in Rus- sia, but suddenly there was no bread," she said. "We took a vacation to visit friends and I did not return to Russia for 12 years." Once here, Agronick said she asked herself, "Am I re- ally lucky? These Germans killed so many Jews. But for my daughter Marina, I had to do it." Nevertheless, Agronick admits some disappointment. Toby Axelrod center, at a Torah dedication Her daughter, Marina, has Boris Vainrub also has Vainrib said his family fled little connection to Judaism, mixed feelings about Germa- to Germany, where they were and Marina's boyfriend, who ny. His first preference was to among 300 Israelis given is the father of her child, is live in Israel, wherehelandeda refugee status in Germany at a German non-Jew. When he goodjobafteremigratingfrom the time. belatedly learned that Marina Russia in 1990. But then the Vainrib, now the owner of was Jewish, he told her he was Gulf War broke out and Iraqi an electronic goods store, said gladbecausehehadheardthat Scud missiles were raining hefelt"morallybetterinIsrael. all Jews are rich. down on Ramat Gan. But Germany is calmer." TEXAS HOLD'EM TOURNAMENT Join us for an evening of poker, PRIZES, food and FUN/ ~ Both include or -0713 NETWORK WITH CAPTNNS OF INDUSTRY& TOP HEDGE FUND MANAGERS ENTERTHE MIND OFTHEWALLSTREEr TITAN EXPLOREYOUR JEWISH HERITAGE all meals, accommodations & activities Tra~Uon ~ & from New York not provided APPLY NOW! www.aishconnections.com i II