German Jews, Nativ healing rift


Germany’s Jewish community and Nativ agreed on outreach methods to the country’s Russian-speaking Jews.

Several new Israeli culture centers will open in 2008, to be run jointly by Nativ and the Jewish Agency for Israel, according to a report in Ha’aretz. The agreement comes after months of recriminations between the Nativ, a Zionist outreach group, and Germany’s Jewish leadership over Germany’s Russian-speaking Jews, whom the Central Council of Jews in Germany is worried Nativ will press to abandon Germany for Israel.

Israel decided in July to send Nativ emissaries to Germany despite objections by the Central Council. German Jewish leaders had said that any Nativ efforts must be coordinated by them and the Jewish Agency, which already does outreach work in Germany.

Critics feared Nativ might use its new foothold to press for aliyah among Germany’s Jews, thus undermining German Jewish growth. There currently are about 120,000 registered members of the Jewish community in Germany, and another 100,000 more who are not members. Of these, many do not qualify as Jews according to halachah, or Jewish law, but do qualify to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, which guarantees the right of Jewish citizenship to anyone who has a Jewish grandparent.

Nativ, whose emissaries arrived in Germany in December, originally was founded in the 1950s to contact Jewish dissidents in what was then the Soviet Union.

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