BERLIN – A new Jewish community was dedicated in the former East Berlin, in the footsteps of one destroyed by the Nazis.
In an odd twist, the community has the same name as another Berlin congregation that is mired in legal limbo and debt after failing to prove it has any members.
In Tuesday’s ceremonies at the century-old Beth Zion synagogue, descendants of pre-war Adass Jisroel rabbis symbolically transferred the spiritual legacy of their forefathers to the new congregation, Kahal Adass Jisroel.
The new group’s 250 members include many young families and students at the Skoblo Synagogue and Education Center and its Orthodox Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, groups that are under the umbrella of the Lauder Yeshurun. The synagogue is located within the Lauder complex, and the congregation itself is independent of other organizations.
It is not part of the official Berlin Jewish community but hopes to cooperate with it, according to Josh Spinner, a member of the new congregation, and executive vice president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Central Council of Jews in Germany has given its unequivocal approval.
There is unlikely to be any cooperation with the largely defunct Israelitische Synagogen Gemeinde Adass Jisroel. Its president, Mario Offenberg, told JTA he knows “next to nothing” about the new group and takes “a neutral position.”
Establishing continuity with a pre-war congregation can lead to property restitution, but Spinner said the new congregation is only interested in spiritual continuity.
It is unclear whether there are any properties involved, aside from the synagogue building and cemetery.