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The German Consulate in NYC welcomes its newest citizens: Jewish New Yorkers

(New York Jewish Week) — “Wilkommen,” David Gill, the German Consul General of New York, told a group of Jewish New Yorkers who had gathered at the Consulate last week. A slideshow behind him rotated through scenes of sweeping German landscapes, skylines and tourist attractions. 

Nearly all of the 70 people in attendance had recently become German citizens under a law that allows for victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants to reclaim their German citizenship, of which Jews were stripped during the Nazi era. Though the law was enacted in 1949, sweeping changes in the last four years have allowed many more descendants to become eligible for citizenship.

Last Wednesday’s event, called “Discover Germany: Politics, Culture, and Jewish Life,” was the first of its kind to welcome these new Jewish citizens of Germany, and help them learn about German culture and the country’s Jewish life. (Both the United States and Germany recognize dual citizenship.) The aim, said Jordan Rothschild, a consulate representative, was to show these new nationals their future as German citizens, such as scholarship opportunities and a coveted EU passport.

“There is a German diaspora community in New York that has a very specific point of reference for Germany: their parents, grandparents, great grandparents were stripped of their citizenship — often they were survivors of the Holocaust and they have a very specific historical experience with Germany,” Rothschild, a Jewish New Yorker who became a naturalized German citizen 15 years ago at age 7, told the New York Jewish Week. 

“There is a huge information gap about modern Germany because of that loss,” he continued. “So it’s very important that [the German Consulate] engages with this community because they’re German and it’s very important that we engage with them as the American Jews as well because that’s what we are.”

Among the event’s attendees, who sipped wine and snacked on German pretzels and mustard, were Harlen Pincus and Judy Pincus. The siblings grew up in New York with a German Jewish mother who fastidiously documented her German ancestry, despite losing her citizenship. 

“Going back 200 years, she had all of the synagogue records, birth certificate and deaths and marriages; our grandparents’ original German passports,” Judy Pincus, 59, said. “In that we found letters that our great-grandfather had sent to the regional government talking about his persecution as a Jew and having to flee Germany and the losses he faced economically.”

Letters like that are exactly the type of evidence the German government looks for when extending naturalization. The Pincuses received their citizenship in 2022.

Although Judy Pincus said she has no plans to move there, the siblings traveled to Germany for a two-week trip to visit their grandparents’ hometowns in 2019. She became a citizen, she said, in part so that her two sons could easily travel and study there. 

“I think she’d be happy,” Pincus said of her mother. “If she had the opportunity [to recover her citizenship], she  would have done it.”

German Jewry has seen a major resurgence in its numbers since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; in the decades since, many Soviet Jews relocated there as well as survivors and descendants who came back. Today there are about 118,000 Jews in the country, according to the World Jewish Congress, including some 20,000 Israelis.

The national flags of Israel and Germany wave at the city hall in Frankfurt, Germany, Oct. 14, 2023. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)

Germany is also a major ally of Israel — Chancellor Olaf Scholz was one of the first foreign ministers to visit the country after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. As Gill told the room in New York: “In this moment, we feel very close to our Jewish partners and friends, in a time of unseen threats against Israel and the Jewish people.”

Gill did not, however, mention the Molotov cocktails that were thrown at a Berlin synagogue earlier that morning. The firebombs landed on the sidewalk and caused no damage.

The event included a crash course on the German political system, an introduction to German cultural offerings in New York, as well as a presentation about scholarship opportunities for studying in German universities. Guests were a range of ages, from teenagers with parents to seniors.

“The night that Donald Trump was elected president, I was living in a Republican area and I came home that night and people were celebrating by shooting guns in the air to celebrate. I was terrified and wanted an option of somewhere else to go,” said Sarah Myerson, the cantor at Kane Street Synagogue, who became a German citizen last year. “I always had a positive relationship with Germany. I lived there and met my husband there. My grandmother always had a positive relationship with Germany, as well. Germany was her country.”

The New York Consulate naturalized roughly 900 citizens who are descendents of Holocaust survivors in the last two years. said Anna Miebach, a deputy consul who handles the naturalization applications. “German citizenship is often seen as an added sense of security, so if the political situation maybe is a bit troubling, we see an uptick in applications,” she told he New York Jewish Week. She said that in 2022, there were just over 8,000 naturalizations to German citizenship from around the world; roughly a quarter of them were American. 

Miebach added that while the consulate doesn’t track the number of newly naturalized citizens who permanently move to Germany, she thinks it is rare. However, “visiting and studying is very common,” she said, and traveling to Europe with ease is a big part of the motivation of many who apply. 

Miebach added that since 2020, there have been several changes in the naturalization law, called the Article 116 Par. 2 Basic Law. The changes allowed even more Jewish descendants to apply for and receive citizenship, including descendants who could trace their lineage through the matrilineal line as opposed to just the patrilineal line. 

“We are here to support you in this journey, which can be very emotional,” Miebach said. “I think often when people want to start this process it feels a bit isolating. Every family member may not be on board with them getting citizenship. These outreach events are very important to make the whole process more personalized.”

The event concluded with a discussion between Rothschild and Sami Vingron, a German Jew who grew up in Berlin and is now in his final year of rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary uptown. 

Vingron said that Jews in Germany find themselves in a unique position of being forced to acknowledge the atrocities of the Holocaust on a daily basis  — as he put it, “I learned to windsurf at the Wannsee,” site of a meeting in which Nazi officials planned the genocide.

But this aspect of German Jewish identity makes the Jewish community feel a certain closeness and responsibility towards each other, he added. “There’s a very strong sense of collective identity, of being there for each other in Germany,” said Vingron, who plans to return to Germany. “Jews in our times want to preserve what was there but also want to go into the future and have a diverse Judaism.”

For Rose Freymuth-Frazier, a New York City based-artist who created a Facebook group for newly naturalized citizens, meeting other people who went through the same process as her has been a major bonus to the experience.

“When I walked into this room I got a bit choked up. Every time I walk into the Jewish space, I think, of course, we’re all related,” she said. “But the feeling is even more pronounced among German Jews. There’s a closeness here. We’ve all been through the same experience. It’s an amazing feeling.”


The post The German Consulate in NYC welcomes its newest citizens: Jewish New Yorkers appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

The post Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law pic.twitter.com/d2uE16ZzQ1

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’ pic.twitter.com/DmHjwfHtPV

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

The post IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.

REMEMBERING THE DEAD

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

The post One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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