Menu JTA Search

Neil Somers RSS

Latest

  • OP-ED Old prejudices hard to overcome even as Berlin builds a memorial

    BERLIN, July 6 (JTA) — I encountered the word “wucher,” or usurer, for the first time while interviewing people on the street about the planned Holocaust memorial for Berlin. It may sound strange — how does one get to the topic of usury when discussing a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe? I am…

  • BEHIND THE HEADLINES Memorial in Berlin does not end debate on guilt and remembrance

    BERLIN, June 28 (JTA) — A gray-haired man and woman stood at the wooden fence, reading the posters pasted onto its planks: “This is the site of Germany’s future memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.” Behind the high wall is a sandy lot, big as several football fields, sprinkled with wild flowers and pools…

  • AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD Jewish, German students broaden their knowledge about one another

    BERLIN, June 28 (JTA) — The German student laughed with embarrassment. She had just guessed that there are half a million Jews in Germany. “Actually, it is about 75,000,” said American student Leo Sorits, questionnaire in hand. “Don’t worry, I didn’t know the answer myself before today.” Sorits, a 20-year-old junior at Brooklyn College, is…

  • Opera’s ‘Moses’ finds connection with his own history through role

    CHEMNITZ, Germany, June 16 (JTA) — There is more than a minyan on stage: men in prayer shawls, women in head coverings, prophets and kings of the Torah. But out of 200 cast members of “The Eternal Road,” only one is openly Jewish. His name is Matteo De Monti, and he is Moses. “Here I…

  • AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD Eastern German town celebrates Jewish rebirth, stages Weill opera

    CHEMNITZ, Germany, June 16 (JTA) — Statues of eight boys once graced the facade of the high school here, sculpted images of perfection to be admired from below. But in 1936, the headmaster removed the top two statues and had them destroyed because they were modeled after a Jewish boy named Moritz. He and his…

  • FOCUS ON ISSUES Germans grapple with rule of law as tools of oppression, democracy

    BERLIN, June 10 (JTA) — In 1933, David Arad’s father-in-law, Eduard Meyerstein, then 65, “received a friendly letter that in order to prevent a public outrage he should pass up on his rights as a public notary,” said Arad. “Before 1933, he and his family were seen as human beings.” Peter Galiner’s parents ended their…

  • New German president active in interreligious dialogue groups

    BERLIN, May 23 (JTA) — Johannes Rau has been elected Germany’s eighth postwar president in elections that coincided with the 50th anniversary of West Germany’s Constitution. In his acceptance speech, he said he saw it as his “personal duty from this day on to be president for all Germans and a voice for all those…

  • Protests greet war crimes verdict despite conviction of Gestapo agent

    BERLIN, May 20 (JTA) — Protest — and praise — greeted this week’s verdict in what may be Germany’s last Nazi war crimes case. Alfons Goetzfrid, a 79-year-old former Gestapo agent, was found guilty of helping murder 17,000 people, most of them Jews. But a German court ruled that he should not serve the sentence…

  • AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD Female rabbis, cantors meet in first European conference

    BERLIN, May 17 (JTA) — It was a rare scene: A student rabbi from Belarus and a cantor from California stood on the same bimah, both thousands of miles from home, and both women. But it happened last week in Berlin, at the first-ever European conference of female rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators. The conference,…

  • Man stands trial in Germany for role in wartime massacre

    BERLIN, April 28 (JTA) — A Ukrainian-born man of German descent is standing trial in Stuttgart for assisting in the murder of 17,000 Jews in Poland 56 years ago. Alfons Goetzfried, 79, is charged with having played a role in the murder of Jews in the infamous “Harvest Festival” action of Nov. 3-4, 1943, at…