Rabbis Ordained in Germany for First Time Since Shoah

The first ordination in Germany of rabbis since World War II took place yesterday in Dresden. The ceremony, which attracted attention both in Germany and in the international media, was not attended by any Israeli officials.

The ceremony, which took place in Dresden's New Synagogue, ordained three new rabbis, graduates of the Abraham Geiger College, a Reform rabbinical seminary that opened in 1999 in Potsdam. Two will serve congregations in Germany and one will go to Capetown, South Africa. Geiger College President Rabbi Walter Jacob said in his address that "all of Germany rejoices with us."

"The Geiger institute for the training of rabbis is a symbol of a vibrant Jewish community with international connections," German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote in a letter in honor of the occasion. German President Horst Kohler described the event as "special because many did not believe that after the Holocaust Jewish life would flourish in Germany."

Geiger executive director Rabbi Walter Homolka told Haaretz that the Israeli Embassy did not respond to the college's invitation. The president of the umbrella organization of the German Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch also did not attend, due to her opposition to Reform congregations joining the organization under pressure from the German government.