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Dresden to get first own rabbi in 75 years

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BERLIN (JTA) — The Jewish community of Dresden is installing its first hometown rabbi since 1938.

Alexander Nachama, 29, is to be formally inaugurated this Sabbath as rabbi of the new synagogue in Dresden, which is in eastern Germany. Dresden’s Semper-Synagogue was destroyed during the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938. The new synagogue was dedicated at the original site in 2001.

Previously, Dresden was served by Rabbi Salomon Almekias-Siegl, who rotated between three communities before retiring in 2011.

Nachama, who also is a cantor, was ordained earlier this month in Erfurt after completing his rabbinical studies at the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam. He is pursuing a master’s degree in Jewish studies, history and culture at the University of Potsdam.

Nechama’s late paternal grandfather, Estrongo Nachama, survived Auschwitz and became chief cantor for Berlin’s Jewish community. The rabbi’s father, Andreas Nachama, is also a rabbi and serves as spiritual leader of Berlin’s Hüttenweg synagogue.

Alexander Nachama, who began serving the Dresden Jewish community in 2012, told the DPA press agency that he hopes to inspire members to become more involved.

Dresden’s prewar Jewish community numbered more than 5,000; there were only 41 Jews there in the immediate postwar years. With the influx of Russian-speaking Jews since 1990, the Jewish community in Dresden has grown to 720 from 61 in 1990.

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