Berlin’s Jewish community co-hosted a ceremony commemorating 9/11 amid criticism.
Thursday’s event was the first time the community co-hosted the ceremony marking the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 with the U.S. Embassy. The Centrum Judaicum-Foundation New Synagogue in the former East Berlin also hosted the event.
Two years ago a Christian organization co-hosted the program, and last year a local Muslim organization co-hosted a ceremony at the ambassador’s residence.
Among those attending Thursday’s event were German relatives of victims of the terror attacks.
Participants included Rabbi Gesa Ederberg of Berlin’s New Synagogue, the Rev. Ben Coltvet of the American Church in Berlin and Imam Ferid Heider of the Intercultural Center for Dialogue and Education. It was the first time Heider had set foot in a synagogue.
The event included an address by Berlin Jewish Community President Lala Suesskind.
Malte Lehming of the Tagesspiegel newspaper suggested in a column that by co-hosting the event with the Jewish community at a synagogue, the U.S. Embassy was giving anti-Semites and anti-Americans more evidence of “an unholy alliance between America and Israel, to the disadvantage of the Arabs, steered by powerful Jewish lobby groups in the USA.”
“I was disturbed by how completely he misunderstood the nature of our upcoming September 11th commemoration,” U.S. Ambassador to Germany William Timkin Jr. wrote in an open response to Lehming, noting that other religious groups had co-hosted the event in 2006 and 2007. “This year we approached Berlin’s Jewish community, which offered space at the synagogue on Oranienburger Street. Perhaps next year we will be at a mosque.”