Rabbis to Serve in German Army for First Time Since Hitler’s Rise

June 12, 2020

For the first time since Hitler’s rise to power prior to World War Two, Rabbis will now be allowed to provide religious counsel to members of Germany’s armed forces, as chaplains.

This decision, unanimously adopted by the German parliament, will end the necessity of Jewish soldiers to rely upon Christian faith representatives alone. The Jerusalem Post confirmed that the action was taken as a direct response to the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Defense Minister of Germany, first began implementing this new inclusionary policy in December of 2019. 

The decision will also extend the same invitation to Imams and Christian Orthodox priests. Prior to now, the only military chaplains were Protestant or Catholic. The German Government’s new policy will provide religious counsel to the estimated 300 Jewish soldiers and 3,000 Muslim soldiers in the German military. Josef Schuster, the President of the German Jewish Council, applauded the move, calling it “an important support for the democratic attitude of the soldiers.”

In terms of the details of the legislation, up to 10 rabbis would be appointed to the position. The initial agreement was put together by Germany’s Central Council of Jews in concert with the government in Berlin. A rise in anti-Semitism across Germany increases the significance of this decision. Making her intentions clear, Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer proclaimed that this action will serve as “a visible contribution against the anti-Semitism that is growing daily in our society at large.”

In fact, German anti-Semitism is growing quite drastically. Just in the last year, anti-Semitic crimes increased by 13 percent, never has such a high number of incidents been reached since Germany first began keeping statistics. This past October, a gunman attempted to enter a synagogue in Halle, Germany, but was stopped outside where he killed two people.

The Conference of Orthodox Rabbis in Germany recognized this reality, stating their approval for this government initiative. They stated that the parliament’s decision to advance the agreement marked “an important signal, especially in times as these when there is again fertile ground for anti-Semitism, hate from the far right and conspiracy theorists.”

While the measurable impact will not be known for years, this partnership with the Jewish community marks a serious effort by the German government to quell anti-Semitism in the country.

Source: https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/german-parliament-agrees-unanimously-to-allow-rabbis-back-in-military-629721