Essen Jews to boycott Kristallnacht ceremony

Jews in Germany’s Essen community will boycott the city’s Kristallnacht ceremony.

It marks the first time in decades that the Jewish community of Essen will not participate in the annual Kristallnacht memorial event next month in the city’s Old Synagogue.

At issue is a flyer that an employee in the city’s office for intercultural projects signed and circulated last year in which she called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “Adolf Olmert” and used the phrase “Holocaust in Lebanon.”

Jewish leaders say Mayor Wolfgang Reiniger promised not to reinstate the employee to her post, yet she was back less than a year later. The unnamed employee created and signed the leaflet in August 2006, at the height of Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and then distributed it attached to a municipal publication, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper reported. She was warned and temporarily moved to a position in the youth department.

The employee, who is of Lebanese background, later said she regretted the statements in the flyer and in July was reinstated to her position in the integration office. She reportedly would have had to return to Lebanon if she were removed from her job.

Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he plans to meet with Reiniger this week to see if a compromise solution can be found.

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