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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Germany ordains 'first' rabbis
Rabbis Daniel Alter (left) from Germany, Malcom Matitiani (centre) from South Africa and Thomas Kucera from Czech Republic after ordination
The new rabbis hail from Germany, South Africa and the Czech Republic
A group of rabbis has been ordained in Germany for the first time since World War II and the destruction by the Nazis of the country's Jewish seminaries.

Three Jewish graduates from the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam were ordained in the eastern city of Dresden.

More than 100,000 Jews live in Germany but there is a dearth of rabbis - there are only about 25 of them serving 100 congregations, a BBC reporter says.

For years Germany has had to rely on rabbis imported from abroad.

It's a triumph of the good in humanity over the evil of [the Nazi] period
Malcolm Matitiani
Future rabbi

The ordination took place in Dresden's new synagogue which was rebuilt after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Daniel Alter of Germany was the first of the three men to be confirmed as rabbi.

He was soon joined by Tomas Kucera of the Czech Republic and South Africa's Malcolm Matitiani.

Mr Matitiani has been studying in Germany for the last five years.

After his ordination he is planning to go back to his synagogue in Cape Town.

He said he hoped the ordinations would help reintroduce Judaism to Europe and revive Jewish life.

"It's a triumph of the good in humanity over the evil of [the Nazi] period," he said.

Growing Jewish population

The last seminary, the Berlin-based College of Jewish Studies, was destroyed by the Nazis in 1942.

The Jewish community in Germany had some 600,000 registered members before the Holocaust and the war, the BBC's Tristana Moore in Berlin says.

Thanks to an influx of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Germany has the fastest-growing Jewish population in Europe, our correspondent says.

Community leaders are hoping that the ordinations in Dresden will pave the way for more home-grown rabbis.

One of the rabbis speaks out on his ordination



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