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American Rabbi to Officiate at East Berlin Holiday Services

An American rabbi who served with U.S. forces that liberated concentration camps will be conducting High Holiday services for the small Jewish community of East Berlin, according to the World Jewish Congress.

Rabbi Herman Dicker of New York will officiate at services for the 600-member community, according to an agreement worked out between the WJC and the East German government.

Dicker, a research librarian at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, was born in Hungary but educated in Berlin. He fled the Nazis in 1936, coming to New York. There he soon became a chaplain in Gen. George Patton’s army.

Dicker was with U.S. troops who liberated several concentration camps, including Mauthausen. Following the war, Dicker remained in southern Germany, where he helped in the resettlement of concentration camp survivors. He is the author of several books on Jewish history.

The East German Jewish community, a member of the WJC, turned to the organization for help after another American rabbi, Isaac Neumann, left his position after serving less than eight months of a one-year assignment.

Neumann’s departure was surrounded by controversy. The rabbi from Champagne, Ill., who was assigned by the American Jewish Committee, charged the East German press was anti-Semitic.

The Jewish community, for its part, expressed dissatisfaction with Neumann’s performance and remarks he made about the country.

Dicker will not replace Neumann but will serve only for the High Holidays. However, the WJC is engaged with the East Berlin Jewish community in a screening process to fill the year-round spot.

East Germany has an estimated total Jewish population of 1,000, the bulk of them residing in East Berlin.

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