Germany’s Reform rabbinical seminary ordained three new rabbis, including the first woman to become a rabbi in Germany since before the Holocaust.
Thursday’s ceremonies at Berlin’s Pestalozzistrasse Synagogue marked the third ordination of graduates of the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam since the institution opened in 1999.
Standing on the ornate bima and wearing a yarmulka, German President Christian Wulff congratulated the new rabbis. Wulff told the packed synagogue that he was pleased “to witness this moving ceremony” and to “celebrate 200 years of liberal Judaism,” as well as the regrowth of Jewish life of all denominations in Germany. Christian and Muslim clerics were among the guests at the ceremony.
The ordinations reflect the new makeup of Germany’s Jewish community, which has grown to about 220,000 in the last 20 years, in large part due to the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union.
Rabbi Alina Treiger, born in Ukraine, is the first woman ordained in Germany since Regina Jonas, who was ordained in 1935 and was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. Treiger is set to serve in the Jewish community of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst.
Rabbi Konstantin Pal, born in Moscow, will work for the Jewish community in Erfurt, in the former East German state of Thuringia. He will be the first communal rabbi of Thuringia since World War II. Rabbi Boris Ronis, also from Ukraine, will begin work in December as an assistant rabbi under Rabbi Tovia Ben-Chorin of the Jewish community of Berlin.
Germany is considered the birthplace of Reform Judaism, which was launched in the early 19th century by Jewish merchant Israel Jacobson. He opened the first synagogue in Germany where services were conducted in German and accompanied by organ and choir.