Berlin Jews apparently changing leaders


Berlin’s strife-torn Jewish community is likely to gain a new president, according to early voting estimates.

Frida Suesskind and her Jewish communal political group Atid won a majority of the 9,694 votes cast by members of the Berlin Jewish community on Sunday. This means Atid, with 13 seats on the board, will get to choose the next president of the Berlin Jewish community, and it is likely to be Suesskind. The selection will be made in January.

The official election results were to be announced later this week, but voters apparently had ousted Gideon Joffe and his group, Hillel, from power. Hillel is still represented on the board of the Jewish community, with five seats.

The Berlin Jewish community has been plagued by fighting between leaders, charges and countercharges of mismanagement, and general mistrust. Atid had pledged to respond to the needs of Russian-speaking immigrants, who comprise a majority of the community, and repair the community’s finances.

Suesskind, 61, was born in Poland and is a past chair of the WIZO women’s Zionist organization in Germany. She said she would take the post unpaid; Joffe had received a salary for the position.

Like the rest of Germany, the Berlin Jewish community has grown four-fold since the fall of communism due to the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union. The Berlin community has about 12,000 members.

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