Central Council of Jews in Germany
Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland was established in 1950 to represent the interests of the Jewish community in Germany. It initially focused on supporting Holocaust survivors and refugees, and later on promoting Jewish life in Germany. The organization has also had to confront antisemitism, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, and has responded by speaking out against hate and taking legal action against hate speech and Holocaust denial. Today, the Central Council of Jews continues to play an important role in promoting Jewish life in Germany and fighting antisemitism through education, interfaith dialogue, and collaboration with the German government and other organizations.
Structure and tasks of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
The Central Council of Jews unites under its umbrella 23 state associations and 104 Jewish communities with around 91,839 (as of 2021/ZWST) members and represents their political and social interests. It is the point of contact for politicians at the federal and state level for all issues affecting the Jewish community.
The dual function: Representation of interests externally – structure-building internally
In addition, the Central Council of Jews performs an advisory function in the areas of science, culture and education and supports the work of the state associations organized in it, the Jewish communities and the Central Welfare Office of Jews in Germany (ZWST).
The structures of the Central Council and its flagships
The Central Council of Jews is the sponsor of the University of Jewish Studies (see also HfJS) and the Central Archive for Research on the History of Jews in Germany in Heidelberg (see also HfJS). In addition, the Central Council of Jews in Germany is the publisher of the “Jüdische Allgemeine”, the only national Jewish weekly newspaper in Germany.
For the Jewish communities and community members, the Central Council of Jews offers an extensive and diverse range of services in the areas of education, religion, promotion of young people, and culture.
Looking beyond the horizon: the international level
The Central Council of Jews is closely connected to the Jewish community in Europe and the world. Through its memberships in the European Jewish Congress (EJC) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) (see also International), the voice of the Central Council also has charisma and weight at the international level. Central Council President Dr. Josef Schuster represents the Jewish community in both bodies as vice president.
- Establishment of a Task Force for Combating antisemitism: In 2018, the Central Council of Jews established a task force to combat antisemitism in Germany. The task force is made up of experts in the field and is responsible for developing strategies and recommendations for combating antisemitism.
- Collaboration with Schools: The Central Council of Jews has collaborated with schools in Germany to educate students about the Holocaust and Jewish history. The organization provides teaching materials and offers workshops for teachers to help them address antisemitism in the classroom.
- Partnership with the German Federal Government: The Central Council of Jews has partnered with the German federal government to combat antisemitism. The government has allocated funding to support the organization’s initiatives and has also appointed a commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against antisemitism.
- Promotion of Interfaith Dialogue: The Central Council of Jews promotes interfaith dialogue as a way of combating antisemitism. The organization has organized several events to bring together Jewish and non-Jewish communities to promote understanding and respect.
- Legal Action against Antisemitic Incidents: The Central Council of Jews has taken legal action against individuals and organizations that engage in antisemitic behavior. The organization has filed lawsuits against social media platforms for failing to remove antisemitic content and has also taken legal action against individuals who engage in hate speech and Holocaust denial.