The first Jewish Student center in Berlin opened yesterday (Monday), under the auspices of Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal. The venue will host Jewish-themed and pro-Israel lectures and activities to strengthen Israel advocacy in the wake of increasing anti-Semitism in Germany and worldwide, as well as the rising intermarriage rate in Germany, currently estimated to be about 50%.
Regarding the opening of the center, Rabbi Teichtal stressed that since “Berlin has become a magnet for Jewish students from throughout the world in recent years, it’s time to have a regular home for Jewish students in the city.” About 150 members of the local Jewish community attended the ceremony.
The new house will be run by two organizations: Chabad on Campus, by Chabad Worldwide, which will be responsible for social and educational activities held at the house, and the KSpace organization, run by students, which will be responsible for pro-Israel projects, social and leisure events.
The Jewish Student house is effectively designed to serve the same purposes as a Hillel branch. Hillel is a network of student centers across North America and internationally which encourage Jewish activities and involvement. More than 5,000 Jewish students reportedly attend Berlin’s academic institutions.
Hillel president Avraham Infeld traveled to Germany in 2004 to investigate the possibility of beginning a Hillel network in Western Europe, but apparently the plans for a Berlin Hillel never bore fruit; no Hillel branches are listed for Germany on the company's official website. As such, the Jewish student house is the first of its kind in Germany.