Jewish group cancels Berlin mission

BERLIN, Oct. 11 (JTA) — A long-planned mission to Germany by the New York-based United Jewish Communities has fallen victim to the current world crisis.

The first-ever official trip to Berlin by the umbrella organization for North American Jewish federations was canceled during a meeting in New York on Wednesday, according to Gail Reiss, the UJC’s senior associate vice president. The trip, originally set for Oct. 14-18, has been rescheduled for October 2002.

Reiss told JTA that participants were concerned about the possibility of becoming stranded in Europe, as were many travelers just after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

UJC spokesman Glenn Rosenkrantz told JTA that the Israel segment of the mission is expected to take place as planned from Oct. 18-22. On the agenda are meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and with members of Knesset, a visit to Jerusalem’s beleaguered Gilo neighborhood and a Sabbath evening with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

Reiss said the group was disappointed about canceling the trip to Berlin, which was to include meetings with the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Germany, representatives of the German Foreign Ministry and the President’s Office, a private tour of the new Jewish Museum in Berlin and the location of the Wannsee Conference in Potsdam, where the Nazis’ devised their “Final Solution” to the Jewish question.

“We want to have a better understanding of the Jewish community in one of the centers of Europe, we want to understand our past as we move to the future, and we want to understand the relationship of Germany to the United States and Israel,” Reiss said in a telephone interview. She noted that Germany is Israel’s No. 2 economic partner after the United States.

Reiss said she had contacted all hosts in Berlin with regrets about the cancellation.

“All of them said they will be on the books for next year,” she said.

Several American Jewish organizations made official visits to Berlin early in 2001, including B’nai B’rith, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the North American Boards of Rabbis and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

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