West German Cleric Sparks Purchase of Israel Bonds in Mass. Synagogue

The congregation of Temple Mishkan Tfila, in Newton, doubled its pledges for Israel Bonds on Kol Nidre night, the customary time for synagogues to raise money for Israel, and according to Rabbi Richard Yellin, the man responsible for the enthusiastic response is a West German Protestant clergyman, Pastor Albrecht Lohrbacher.

Lohrbacher, in fact, made the first pledge for Israel Bonds this year to the Temple, Yellin informed his congregants in his Kol Nidre sermon. “He cares for Israel more than Jews who take their past for granted,” Yellin said.

He recalled that he met Lohrbacher, who is Superintendent of Christian Religious Education in Baden Baden, in 1982 when the pastor visited Boston, and they renewed their friendship when Yellin visited Germany last summer.

Yellin said Lohrbacher told him he decided to repent for Germany’s Nazi past. “I’m 43 and even though my generation is not guilty, I know there can be no reconciliation with the Nazi past. Christianity means remembering and facing up to what was done in the name of the Christian German tradition,” Yellin quoted the pastor as saying.

The rabbi noted that Lohrbacher led his own annual pilgrimage to Israel this year, a year when few American Jews visited the Jewish state.

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