(photo via Thoman Good)
The German Jewish community marked a major shift in December with the resignation of Dieter Graumann from his position as head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Graumann is replaced by Josef Schuster, the son of two Holocaust survivors and a physician from the Bavarian city of Würzburg who previously served as the group’s vice-president. Schuster is a bit of a controversial leader–his focus appears to primarily be uniting orthodox and liberal Jewish communities. This is, of course, a positive goal for the community, but German Jews are currently grappling with levels of anti-Semitism that must take precedence.
In his final statements as president, Graumann told the newspaper “BILD”: “For a while I noticed that anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly public and is no longer hidden. We often receive anti-Semitic messages sent according to name and address…Some people are no longer ashamed and no longer hide their hostility to Jews.”
In response to raised anti-Semitism in Germany, Dieter Graumann organized the highly publicized September rally against anti-Semitism that took place in Berlin and was attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel. His four years as head of the Central Council were highlighted by “by campaigns to stop Germany from banning circumcision, and sharp criticism of societal and political indifference toward rising hatred of Jews and Israel in the Federal Republic.”
Graumann ultimately stepped down from the position due to the immense responsibility and demanding schedule. New leader, Josef Schuster, is quite optimistic that the position will not alter his schedule and he will be able to balance it with his physician’s practice. Schuster has big shoes to fill, and doesn’t seem to be as concerned with anti-Semitism as the leader he succeeds. Let’s ensure he’s up to the task.