Munich celebrates the formal opening of the headquarters of the European Rabbinical Conference (CER) at the Prinz-Ludwig-Palais on Türkenstraße 7 in the Maxvorstadt district.
This association, boasting roughly 800 members, brings together Orthodox rabbis from across Europe. Previously headquartered in London, the CER made Munich its permanent home following its annual assembly in the city in 2022. Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder extended the invitation to the rabbis, and their relocation has now been realized. The new premises were inaugurated with a ceremony during the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
"Bavaria has become a beacon for Jewish life in Europe," expressed Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. During the event, he also revealed that one of the reasons for their move was the Brexit. "We wanted a headquarters within the European Union." Ultimately, the relocation was orchestrated by Bavaria's Commissioner for Combating Antisemitism, Ludwig Spaenle (CSU), and CER Director Gady Gronich. Spaenle praised the move, stating, "From Munich, there will be significant contributions to Jewish communities."
Prominent political figures attended the ceremony, including Florian Herrmann, Head of the State Chancellery (CSU), Minister of Education Michael Piazolo (Freie Wähler), Mayor Katrin Habenschaden (Greens), and Charlotte Knobloch, Chairwoman of the Israelite Religious Community of Munich. Knobloch assured, "I am overwhelmed that something like this is possible today. No one could have imagined this after 1945."
However, it was not an entirely unblemished occasion. After shaking hands with Markus Söder, the recent leaflet scandal involving Hubert Aiwanger (Freie Wähler) must have felt like a thorn in the side for these Jewish clerics. The Minister-President welcomes Jewish life, yet the Minister of Economic Affairs finds himself under pressure in an antisemitism debate - is there an issue? Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt takes a conciliatory approach. "One of the fundamental concepts of Judaism is Teshuva, the rectification of what a person has done wrong," he says. "Every individual, including politicians, should have the opportunity to correct mistakes if it is done sincerely, especially if the mistake was made in their youth many years ago."
Covering approximately 300 square meters, the rabbis, along with twelve staff members, occupy the premises within the Palais belonging to the Dehoga hospitality association. "This will not merely be an office; it will also serve as a center for Jewish life," says Goldschmidt. "We want to make this tangible. When rabbis from across Europe gather here, new alliances, friendships, and initiatives are formed." A conference on the topic of "values" is already planned for the spring, welcoming religious representatives from all over Europe.