Federal Cabinet agrees to Jewish military pastoral care

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FFor Jewish Bundeswehr soldiers, it is likely to be possible to have their own military chaplains soon. On Wednesday in Berlin the Federal Cabinet gave its approval to a state treaty for the establishment of Jewish military pastoral care. For the first time in 100 years, there would again be military rabbis in the German army. This was a strong sign of Jewish life in Germany, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert after the Cabinet decision in Berlin. Cross-party, the initiative was welcomed.

For decades there have been Protestant and Catholic military pastors in the Bundeswehr on the basis of appropriate contracts with the churches. Because the number of Christian soldiers is decreasing and at the same time the religious affiliations are becoming more plural, the pastors will not be the only clerics in the army in the future. The State Treaty for Jewish military pastoral care had been launched by former Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU). He will be signed at the end of next week by her successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) and the Central Council of Jews. The contract provides for ten military rabbis who, like other military chaplains, can also accompany soldiers both domestically and abroad.

The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, said that the rabbis would also contribute to the education of conscience of the soldiers through life-science education. These lessons for soldiers also help the churches. “The military rabbis will enrich the Bundeswehr,” said Schuster. The Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life, Felix Klein, said that through teaching, the knowledge of the life and traditions of Jews as a whole is being improved.

The State Treaty shows “the trust of the Jewish communities in the institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and their willingness to actively shape the future of our country,” said Klein. The Frankfurt rabbi Avichai Apel, board member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference, also welcomed the decision of the Federal Government. “The Federal Government's decision to reinstate military rabbis in the German armed forces after 100 years is a very encouraging signal, especially in times of renewed anti-Semitism. It underlines that the Jewish community is a firm and equal part of everyday life in Germany. It is also an important sign of freedom of worship in our country. Soldiers are often in extreme situations. For this reason, pastoral care is so important to accompany and strengthen her in her daily service with the German Armed Forces. I am glad that this opportunity is now also available to soldiers of Jewish faith. “

The number of Jewish soldiers is estimated at around 300 by the Ministry of Defense. There is no exact record of religious affiliation. The State Treaty must still be ratified by the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The Federal Government Commissioner for Religious Freedom, Markus Grübel (CDU), welcomed the Cabinet decision as “cornerstone of religious freedom in Germany”.

Islam associations call for Muslim pastors

Planned and long demanded by Islam associations is also a Muslim military pastoral care. However, it is more difficult to anchor because the state does not have a connecting umbrella organization in the Muslim community that represents the majority of Muslims. According to information from the Ministry of Defense, religious soldiers who do not have their own pastors in the German Armed Forces can turn to a contact point that arranges for pastoral care. Around 3000 Muslims are in the Bundeswehr, the ministry estimates. The Greens and the Left also called for their own pastors. The currently largest non-Christian group Muslim pastoral care should be available, said the Greens Bundestag Konstantin von Notz and Tobias Lindner. Left-wing MP Christine Buchholz accused the federal government of delaying the issue. Government spokesman Seibert said that the organization of Muslim support for the Bundeswehr was the subject of ongoing talks.

(TagToTranslate) Steffen Seibert (t) Josef Schuster (t) Felix Klein (t) Ursula von der Leyen (t) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (t) Bundeswehr (t) Federal Government

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