Germans honored for preserving Jewish past
recognized through awards created by U.S. philanthropist
- A woman who restored a dilapidated synagogue, a man who set up a Jewish
museum and another who started a Jewish genealogical database were among
six Germans honored Wednesday for their efforts to preserve Jewish history.
annual Obermayer German Jewish History Awards — funded by Arthur Obermayer,
a philanthropist from Boston and now in their eighth year — recognize
efforts by ordinary Germans to keep alive their nation's rich Jewish
recipients are primarily volunteers whose work is driven by a mixture
of curiosity and passion, like 43-year-old Johanna Rau. A Protestant
pastor who had lived in Israel, she bought and renovated a crumbling
synagogue in the central German village of Heubach. The restored building
is now used as a community center to teach about Jewish customs and
is the only village synagogue in the region — which makes it unique
— and it allows us to clearly show basic elements of Judaism and Jewish
life," Rau told reporters.
addition, the restored house of worship serves as a memorial to the
dozens of local Jews who perished in the Holocaust — and as a show
of resistance to far-right radicals, Rau said.
Reuter, 78, established what is thought to be post-World War II's first
Jewish museum, Rashi House, in the southwestern city of Worms. He also
founded a society that goes into schools to teach young Germans about
the important role Jews played in prewar society.
is our way of fighting against the far-right, using words and the spirit,"
has seen a recent spike in far-right attacks, particularly in its former
eastern states, where the extremist National Democratic Party, or NPD,
also holds seats in two state legislatures.
award recipients were: Gerhard Buck, 71, who has started a Jewish genealogical
database and restored a Jewish cemetery in the central village of Idstein-Walsdorf;
Charlotte Mayenberger, 51, who documented and researched the former
Jewish community in Bad Buchau; and Helmut Urbschat, 75, and Manfred
Kluge, 68, who have researched and recorded the history of Jews in the
western German community of Vlotho.
recipients all receive an honorarium of an undisclosed sum intended
to help them continue their work.
The Associated Press