BERLIN (JTA) — Several hundred Jewish revelers gathered in Berlin for what was billed as the city’s first-ever Jewish parade.
Marking Lag b’Omer, the "Unity Parade" for peace and tolerance made its way Sunday from the Kurfurstendam to the Chabad educational center on Muenstersche Strasse, where a street fair awaited participants. Rabbis Yehudah Teichtal and Shmuel Segal led the parade, which featured makeshift floats and a German bagpipe band.
Prior to the parade, some Jewish leaders suggested that such public celebrations promote stereotypes. Teichtal told JTA, however, that local Jewish leaders have attended Chabad’s public Chanukah candlelighting ceremonies at the Brandenburg Gate for years.
Visitors from Jerusalem, Rabbi Uri Gamson and his wife, Chani, said they were astonished by the open celebration of Jewish life in Berlin.
"In Israel, Germany represents everything bad," said Uri Gamson, pushing their son Moishi in his stroller. "What’s going on here is unbelievable."
Among the parade’s supporters were the Israeli Embassy, United Israel Appeal, Germany’s main weekly Jewish newspaper and the Central Welfare Council of Jews in Germany.