24 January 2008

Germany: Preserving Jewish history

This year's eighth Obermayer German Jewish History Awards, funded by Boston philanthropist Arthur Obermayer, honored six Germans for their work:

-- Gerhard Buck, 71, began a Jewish genealogical database and restored a Jewish cemetery in the central village of Idstein-Walsdorf;

-- Charlotte Mayenberger, 51, documented and researched the former Bad Buchau Jewish community;

-- Helmut Urbschat, 75, and Manfred Kluge, 68, researched and recorded the Jewish history of Vlotho in western Germany;

-- Johanna Rau, 43, bought and renovated a crumbling synagogue in Heubach in central Germany which is now used as a community center to teach about Jewish customs and history and is a memorial to dozens of local Jews who perished in the Holocaust. "It 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," she said.

-- Fritz Reuter, 78, established Rashi House the first post-war Jewish museum in Worms, home to a famous medieval Jewish community, and founded a society that teaches young Germans about the important role Jews played in prewar society. "That is our way of fighting against the far-right, using words and the spirit," he said.

Obermayer award recipients receive an undisclosed sum intended to help continue their work.

Read more here.

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