Berlin Jews install first female leader


The first female president of Berlin’s Jewish community was formally installed.

Lala Susskind, 61, officially took the reins of the 12,000-member community following board elections held Wednesday. Susskind, the longtime president of the German branch of the Women’s International Zionist Organization, succeeds Gideon Joffe.

Her party, Atid, won the Jewish communal elections in November, taking 13 of 21 seats on the community board. As party head, Susskind was the designated president. The opposition Tachles party suggested there were voting irregularities, but their demand for a new election was rejected by the German courts.

Susskind has said that one of her most important tasks will be to heal rifts in the Berlin Jewish community, whose leaders have been embroiled in interpersonal conflicts and whose mandate has been challenged by the new majority – immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Germany’s Jewish population has quadrupled with new arrivals from the former Soviet states. In all, some 120,000 Jews are now registered members of Germany’s Jewish communities. Experts say there may be another 100,000 who are unaffiliated.


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