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Appointment of Female Rabbi in Germany Rankles Establishment

The announcement that Germany’s first female rabbi will soon take over the pulpit of two Jewish Communities here has provoked a storm of media interest – – and some controversy.

Bea Wyler, 44, the first woman to have a congregation in Germany, will lead new congregations in the cities of Oldenburg and Braunschweig — both in West Germany. She will be inaugurated at both Reform temples Aug. 1, but will be based in Oldenburg.

The congregation in Oldenburg was established three years ago and now numbers 100, said Sarah Ruth Schumann, chairwoman of the congregation there. Wyler was not available for an interview, Schumann said.

Wyler’s rabbinical studies began in London and concluded at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where she was ordained in May.

Her appointment has gained widespread attention in the German media.

But one of the key Jewish leaders here has called the media attention “overdone.”

“There is so much commotion you’d think there’d been a revolution,” Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the central council of Jews in Germany, said in an interview.

However, Bubis said the appointment of a female rabbi goes “too far against tradition.”

“It’s strange for me,” he added.

The news also rankled the Rabbis Conference in Germany — a group of a dozen rabbi who discuss religious matters.

The conference will not accept Wyler into their ranks, Bubis said.

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