Vienna’s 7,700 Jews elect new leadership

Current president Oskar Deutsch’s list and Sephardi Jews score top numbers in Austrian capital.

Oskar Deutsch 390 (photo credit: Alexandra Hahlweg)
Oskar Deutsch 390
(photo credit: Alexandra Hahlweg)
BERLIN – Vienna’s small Jewish community voted this week, catapulting the Atid party list of community president Oskar Deutsch into the highest vote tally with 950 votes and giving it seven representatives in the local Jewish leadership.
The list of Sephardic-Bukharan Jews secured 717 votes and six representatives. In 2007, Atid won 10 representatives, and the Sephardic-Bukharan list scored five seats.
Deutsch called the results “a clear mandate that the previous work of the community’s board, in this form, should continue.”
According to a statement on the community’s website, he congratulated all of the parties and regretted that two parties had not obtained enough votes to be represented. The election turnout was 62.36 percent, and Deutsch viewed the high participation as a positive signal to anchor Austria’s Jews within the political framework of Europe and the central European country.
The daily Die Presse reported that Vienna’s Jewish community has about 7,700 members, 5,500 of whom were eligible to vote.
Deutsch, who took over the reins of the growing community earlier this year after Dr.
Ariel Muzicant stepped down, is conducting negotiations with the Sephardic-Bukharan list to form a coalition to elect the new leadership. He is expected to continue as president of the community.
The 48-year-old Deutsch is the first president born in the country after World War II and the Nazis’ elimination of a flourishing pre-Holocaust Austrian Jewish community of 200,000.
He is a popular leader among the diverse groups of Jews and has served the community for the past 14 years as vice president. He has been active in Austrian Jewish affairs for 20 years and widely viewed as an efficient administrator.
He played a key role in organizing the 2011 European Maccabiah Games in Vienna.
“There were 2,000 athletes and 3,000 attendees” at the event, he told The Jerusalem Post in February. “We sang ‘Hatikva.’ An Israeli flag hung over city hall.”
The Vienna-born Jewish leader’s father was born in Romania, and his mother is from Galicia, in present-day Ukraine. Deutsch operates a successful coffee company in the Austrian capital.
The party of social democratic Jews, Avoda, won 155 votes and one seat. Khal Israel tallied 134 votes and one representative, while the Association of Georgian Jews secured 312 votes and two seats. The bloc of religious Jews won 221 votes and one representative.
The Initiative Respect! party garnered 274 votes and two seats. Chaj Jewish life won 391 votes and three seats, and the remaining two parties – Misrachi-Zionist unity and the Association of Caucasus Jews – did not pass the voter hurdle for representation in the community.
Austria’s media devoted wall-to-wall coverage to the vote in its print publications.