On the eve of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish community of Dortmund, Germany was informed that the city council had approved the request to open a Jewish Day School.
The last Jewish institution in Dortmund was forced closed by the Nazis in 1942, according to Rabbi Baruch Babaev, a community rabbi there.
“The fact that the school was the last symbol of Jewish life in this city has now been reopened is a clear sign of the return of our people to a community that the Nazis thought they had destroyed forever,” Rabbi Babaev says with pride. According to the rabbi, the original school was able to remain in operation until the final 70 students were arrested and deported to the ghetto in Riga, Latvia.
The Jewish community in Dortmund has been able to rebuild itself in the wake of the Holocaust and today numbers some 3,000 people, which according to Rabbi Babaev is very similar to the number of Jews living in Dortmund in 1938. While the community already had a synagogue, mikveh and cultural center, the dream of opening a school was the last to be realized. For several years the community has been working to get permits to open in a building that had been vacant after serving as a cultural center for Muslim refugees.
“With God’s help, this coming year 100 Jewish students will be able to learn in a school that is our own,” said Babaev, who together with his wife serve as emissaries to the town from the Straus-Amiel Rabbinical Emissary Program of Ohr Torah Stone. He noted that in general the Jewish community gets along extremely well with the local population, and he enjoys strong relationships with the local clergy, but there is a growing threat from neo-Nazis. At present, the Jewish students learn in the general public schools and can be the subject of antisemitic attacks.