Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland

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ZENTRALRAT DER JUDEN IN DEUTSCHLAND (Central Council of Jews in Germany), political umbrella organization of Jewish communities in Germany founded in July 1950 in Frankfurt-am-Main. It includes the Jewish state federations (Landesverbaende) and communities of the major cities, and was generally accepted as the representative of Jews in West Germany and, since 1990, in reunified Germany. The name signifies a break with the pre-Nazi self-designation of "German citizens of the Jewish faith." Reflecting both the experience of exclusion and the fact that most Jews in postwar Germany were not of German origin, it has remained unchanged throughout its existence. During its early decades its main tasks were the reconstruction of Jewish life and negotiations with German authorities concerning restitution. Since the 1990s, it has been occupied to a large extent with the integration of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Its seats have been Frankfurt, Duesseldorf, Bonn, and since 1999, Berlin. The governing body consists of the president, two vice presidents, and six additional members of the executive. Presidents of the Zentralrat were Heinz *Galinski (1954–63, 1988–92), Herbert Lewin (1963–69), Werner *Nachmann (1969–1988), Ignatz *Bubis (1992–1999), and Paul *Spiegel (2000– ). In 2005, 87 Jewish communities belonged to the Zentralrat, consisting of about 110,000 members. For the first time, three Liberal Jewish state federations joined the Zentralrat in 2005. The Zentralrat oversees the Jewish Studies College in Heidelberg, the Central Archives for the Research of German Jewry in Heidelberg, and the Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle, responsible for social work. It also serves as the publisher for Germany's only weekly Jewish newspaper, the Allgemeine Juedische Wochenzeitung. In addition, it also initiated the annual Leo Baeck Award, whose recipients have shown special merits with regard to Jewish issues in Germany.


Y.M. Bodemann, Gedaechtnistheater (1996); M. Brenner, After the Holocaust (1997); J. Geller, Jews in Post-Holocaust Germany (2005).

[Michael Brenner (2nd ed.)]