German Jewish Leader Threatens to Ask Gov't to Prevent Aliyah
Germany’s Jewish establishment has demanded that Israel not advertise the invitation for German Jews to immigrate to the Jewish state.
Stephan J. Kramer, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, sent a letter last week to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying he would request the German government’s help in preventing Israel from encouraging Jews to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) from Germany, according to Haaretz.
Though threatening to turn to the government to enforce his distaste for Aliyah recruitment, Kramer has in the past taken a much softer tone when dealing with other threats - such as missionaries targeting Jews from Russia. “If Jewish communities are not attractive enough to keep people inside the community, neither a law nor any movement will help,” he said in an recent interview following a proposal to ban the activities.
The current letter follows an Israeli government decision to widen the scope of the Nativ immigration assistance program from the Former Soviet Union to include Germany as well – a place where an estimated hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews and their relatives now reside.
The decision paved the way to open Hebrew courses and other educational initiatives to spread awareness of Aliyah as an option. Nativ targets specifically Russian-speaking Jews, and their relatives, for Aliyah. The move to expand operations to Germany was the decision of Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also sought to expand operations to North America as well – a move blocked by the Foreign Ministry.
The Jewish Agency has already been operating in Germany for years (click here for the agency’s German-language Aliyah web site – translated by Google) and there are already several ulpans (intensive Hebrew study programs) operating in Germany. Birthright Israel also operates there, providing both free tours of Israel for youth and the new Massa program – which provides long-term study.
Currently, about 100 people make Aliyah from Germany each year. Earlier this year, Kramer boasted in an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph that Germany’s “renaissance has drawn more Jewish immigration than Israel.”