Dieter Graumann elected to head German Jews

BERLIN (JTA) — For the first time, Jews in Germany have elected a representative, Dieter Graumann, born after the Holocaust.

The board of the Central Council of Jews in Germany unanimously elected Graumann, 60, to head the 60-year-old organization, at its meeting Sunday in Frankfurt.

Graumann, born to Holocaust survivors in Israel, succeeds Munich native Charlotte Knobloch, 78, who decided not to run again after four years in office.

Josef Schuster, 56, of Wurzburg was elected to replace Graumann as vice president. Salomon Korn, 67, of Frankfurt, was re-elected as second vice president.

Graumann, who ran unopposed, told reporters he was "moved and touched" to have been elected to head the body, which represents about 110,000 Jews who are registered members of Jewish communities. An estimated 100,000 more Jews are not affiliated with congregations. There are 23 regional associations, and 108 congregations under the Central Council umbrella, including traditional, Conservative and Reform.

Noting that the Jewish population has soared since 1990, with the influx of former Soviet Jews, Graumann said he hoped to build stronger alliances between the postwar establishment community and the new immigrants, as well as to encourage the younger generation to identify Jewishly.

Graumann’s parents, who met in a displaced persons camp in Germany and immigrated to Israel, returned to Germany when Graumann was nearly 2 years old. They settled in Frankfurt, where Graumann now runs a real estate firm.

The former head of the Frankfurt Jewish Sports Club TuS Makkabi, Graumann was elected to the board of the Central Council in 1995, representing the Frankfurt Jewish community. In 2001 he was elected to the executive board.

Knobloch last week received Germany’s highest award, the Highest Order of Merit, at the presidential palace for her reconciliation efforts between Jews and non-Jews in Germany, and in combating anti-Semitism.

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