BERLIN (JTA) — The German city of Frankfurt has elected its first Jewish mayor since 1933 and only its second in history.
In elections held Sunday, Peter Feldmann, a 53-year-old economist and political scientist, won with 57 percent of the vote — surprising even himself, according to news reports. The Social Democrat will succeed incumbent Petra Roth of the conservative Christian Democratic Union. Roth had called for early elections and did not run, instead supporting her party’s candidate, Boris Rhein, the interior minister of the state of Hessen.
Feldmann, the former head of a home for seniors, takes the helm of a city with some 650,000 inhabitants and Germany’s fourth-largest Jewish population.
The last Jewish mayor of the city was its first: Ludwig Landmann served for nine years until 1933, when the Nazis came to power. At the time, the city boasted the second-largest Jewish population in Germany, with 30,000 members. Today it has about 7,000 members, according to the community website. Most have come from the former Soviet Union in the past 20 years.
Feldmann, who reportedly identifies with Liberal Judaism, is a co-founder and active member of the Working Group of Jewish Social Democrats, a 5-year-old political caucus.