Monday, September 27, 2021

Military rabbi takes office in Germany for first time in century

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The first military rabbi to take office in Germany in 100 years will to be inaugurated on Monday.

The rabbi of the state of Saxony, Zsolt Balla, was to be inaugurated at the synagogue in Leipzig as Jewish chaplain to the German military, with others to follow in his footsteps in the coming years.

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern two ahead of the ceremony, the 42-year-old said he hoped he could reach not only the Bundeswehr, but also the wider German population.

“I think that anti-Semitism and any form of hatred against minorities are things that we can never eliminate from our society for good,’’ Balla said.

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But it was possible to at least isolate these tendencies with good work, good conversations and exchanges.

“We have to evaluate this every year again and again: Are we doing enough for a better society in Germany,’’ Balla asked.

He said his position was a historical responsibility.

“I think it is not a false hope to say that one day it will be as natural for the Bundeswehr to have Jewish soldiers as it is for the armed forces of the United States, the Netherlands, France and England,’’ Balla said.

Hungarian-born Balla studied engineering in his home town of Budapest. He has been living in Germany since 2002.

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In Berlin, he attended the Beis Zion Talmudic high school.

In 2009, he completed his rabbinical studies. In the same year, he was ordained as a rabbi in Munich.

He has been the regional rabbi of Saxony since 2019.


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