General Convention of CER Opens in Munich

By Vicki Belovski

Over 350 Rabbanim from 43 countries gathered in Munich on Monday for the opening session of the 32nd General Convention of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER). The theme of the convention was “Rabbinic Leadership in Times of Pandemic and War.”

The convention runs from Monday to Wednesday and was preceded by meetings of the Standing Committee of the CER, on Sunday. Munich was chosen as the venue for the convention, originally scheduled for November 2021, but delayed twice by the pandemic, as 2021 marked the anniversary of 1700 years of the Jewish community in Germany. In his remarks at one of the opening sessions, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the CER, observed that Kristallnacht was planned and announced on November 8th, 1938, from the town hall which still stands in the Old City of Munich.  He remarked on the amazing resurgence of the Jewish community in Germany, represented by 50 Rabbanim at the convention.

The session was introduced by Dayan Menachem Gelley, shlita, Rosh Beis Din of the London Beth Din. Dayan Gelley quoted the first Rashi in this week’s parshah, Parshas Bamidbar, which says that the repeated counting of the Jewish people shows how beloved they are to Hashem; he stressed the importance of every single person at the convention – Rabbanim, Dayanim, askanim and patrons.  He said that each person can help Klal Yisrael in their own way.  Both Chief Rabbis of Israel, Harav David Lau, shlita, and Harav Yitzchak Yosef, shlita, addressed the gathering, speaking on the topic of Rabbinic leadership in chutz la’aretz in difficult times.

Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, Rav of Young Israel of Avenue K and former Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam, offered some thoughts on world peace, concluding with a tefillah. Rabbi Moshe Lebel, Rabbinic Director of the CER, conveyed the good wishes of a number of Gedolei Yisrael for the success of the convention and the Rabbanim of the CER. He was followed by Harav Shmuel Aharon Brodman, Chief Rabbi of Munich and Harav Moshe Mordechai Farbstein, Rosh Yeshivas Chevron, and Nasi of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin.

Later in the afternoon, Minister President of the Free State of Bavaria, Dr. Markus Soder made an appearance, and addressed the gathering very warmly. Rabbi Goldschmidt presented him with a silver menorah as a token of appreciation.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt presenting a menorah to Dr Markus Soder, Minister-President of the Free State of Bavaria. (Eli Etkin)
At the opening session: HaRav David Lau, Harav Yitzchak, Harav MM Farbstein, Rabbi SA Brodman, Dayan Menachem Gelley. (Eli Etkin)

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