Leading German Jewish Group Elects New Head

josef schusterA Bavarian doctor has been confirmed as the new head of Germany’s leading Jewish organization. Josef Schuster was elected Sunday after standing unopposed for the presidency of Germany’s Central Council of Jews.

The 60-year-old was born in Haifa, Israel in 1954. Since 1998, the physician has served as head of the Würzburg Jewish community and since 2010 he was a vice-president of the Central Council. Schuster has also served as head of the Association of Jewish Communities in Bavaria.

He succeeds Dieter Graumann, who in 2010 became the first person born after the Holocaust to take the job.

Following his election,Schuster said that the Central Council said that as a roof body, the Central Council wanted to serve the interests of its affiliated communities. In an interview with ‘Deutsche Welle‘, he said he didn’t like it at all when conversation touched the subject of the relationship between ‘Jews and Germans’. “That always makes my blood pressure rise a little,” said the doctor. “Such phrasing would imply that Jews aren’t Germans.”

Schuster’s predecessor Dieter Graumann managed to improve the financial situation of the Jewish umbrella body by renegotiating an agreement with the federal government. Graumann told the news portal ‘Tagesschau.de’ that the integration of Jews from the former Soviet Union who arrived after the fall of communism 25 years ago and today make up around 90 percent of the Jewish community in Germany, had been handled well. “When you go to a Jewish school in Frankfurt these days, you won’t notice if a pupil is from Minsk or from Munich,” Graumann said.

The Central Council of Jews represents some 100 Jewish congregations with more than 100,000 members in Germany. As head of the Central Council, he will also be a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress.

The Associated Press, WJC contributed to this report

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