Rabbinical seminary breaks ground in Berlin

BERLIN (JTA) – A groundbreaking was held for the planned new home of the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin.

Philanthropist Ronald Lauder on Wednesday stuck a shovel into the earth under a tent at 32 Brunnenstrasse in the eastern part of the German capital.

The planned six-story building, which is expected to cost some $5.8 million, will increase the space for the 4-year-old rabbinical program under the umbrella of the Lauder Yeshurun. The Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin has ordained eight rabbis in the last three years.

"It is not enough to train rabbis for Germany," said Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress. "We have a successful seminary in Germany and what we now need is to make it work for all of Europe."

The Lauder Foundation, the Skoblo family in Berlin, and the United Kingdom-based Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation will cover $3.23 million of the cost for a building alongside the existing Yeshiva Beis Zion. The rest must be raised by the Berlin-based Lauder Yeshurun, which includes a kindergarten, primary school, the yeshiva and seminary for men, and a learning center for women.

The Yeshurun, which is a private organization, receives major support from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as well as state funding.

The Lauder Foundation has been infusing money and energy into Jewish education across Central and Eastern Europe for 25 years, and it marked the anniversary with a dinner and ceremonies in Berlin this week that included the rededication of the Lauder Beth Zion Primary school.

"Someday I hope these children will bring their own children with them, and they will remember this day," Lauder said at the rededication.

Participants from across Eastern Europe attended the ceremonies.

The festivies came amid the backdrop of recent high-profile anti-Semitic attacks in Berlin, which is home to an estimated 30,000 Jews, though less than half affiliate with the community. Parents and Jewish leaders appear to view the recent incidents, including one physical and one verbal attack, as exceptions.

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