Rabbi Unterman’s Remarks Called Slur on German Jewry

A remark attributed to Israel’s Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Isser Yehuda Unterman implying that Nazism was punishment for German Jews because they had abandoned Judaism, drew a strong protest yesterday from Heinz Galinski, chairman of the Jewish community of West Berlin. He said the Chief Rabbi’s purported remarks were a slur on Jews now living in Germany and caused “great bitterness and profound anger” among them.

Galinski referred to a speech by Unterman at memorial services for Jewish victims of Nazism at the Heichal Shelomo, chief rabbinate headquarters in Jerusalem, last week. The Chief Rabbi was quoted as having claimed that “the greatest tragedy came from Germany because German Jews were not true to Jewry. They gave up their belief in Judaism and did not want to have anything more to do with the Jewish people.”

In a letter sent to the Chief Rabbi today, Galinski stressed the achievements of Germany Jewry and their contributions to Judaism. He noted that “Hitler did not differentiate between the Jews of one or another country–he persecuted and murdered all the Jews of Europe.” The Jews of Germany feel themselves part of the Jewish people and have identified themselves with the Jewish State. “They will continue to do so,” he wrote. He underlined his protest against Unterman’s alleged remarks by noting that he himself is “a former inmate of Auschwitz and still bears the inmate number 104412.”

Galinski sent copies of his letter to Dr. Zerach Warhaftig and Dr. Joseph Burg, the Israeli ministers of religious affairs and interior respectively and to Dr. Hynrik Van Dam, secretary general of the Council of Jews in Germany.

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