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3 Jul, 2015 14:24

‘Rent a Jew’: German group launches program to stave off anti-Semitism

A Munich-based group has launched a program offering “to rent a Jew” for socializing and “breaking down any prejudices.” The group said that few Germans know Jews personally and the program aims “to engage young people on the grassroots level.”
‘Rent a Jew’: German group launches program to stave off anti-Semitism

The program, with the rather provocative name ‘Rent a Jew’, has been launched by the Munich-based European Janusz Korczak Academy.

“There are 100,000 Jews in Germany, but very few people in this country know a Jew personally. We want to change that …and break down prejudices” about Jews, the group said on its website.

The program aims to aims “to engage young people on the grassroots level" and “to build interpersonal contacts for young people” rather than engage in religious or political questions, a member of the academy’s board of directors, Eva Haller told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The ‘rented’ Jews are available to speak in schools, universities, religious groups and other institutions, the organizers said. The participants of the program are under 30 Haller said adding that there are about 20 people already involved.

A similar project was organized at Berlin’s Jewish Museum in 2013. Entitled ‘The Whole Truth … everything you always wanted to know about Jews’, it featured a Jewish man or woman seated inside a glass box. The person was asked questions for about two hours about Jewish life and culture.

#tbt 1 year ago, @LeeorEnglander was the first "Jew in a box" #GanzeWahrheit#WholeTruth#throwbackthursdaypic.twitter.com/7g8bdxhxPo

— jmberlin (@jmberlin) March 20, 2014

The exhibition triggered a controversial response with some critics saying it failed to improve German-Jewish relations.

“It's a horrible thing to do - completely degrading and not helpful,” Eran Levy, an Israeli who has lived in Berlin for years, told the Daily Mail after visiting the exhibition. “The Jewish Museum absolutely missed the point if they wanted to do anything to improve the relations between Germans and Jews.”

Following the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks in Paris in January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on all Jews living in Europe to return to Israel citing “the rising tide of anti-Semitism.” In the wake of Paris terrorist attacks, leading Jewish thinkers in France warned of an alarming rise in anti-Jewish violence. Immigration into Israel has nearly doubled since the start of 2015, according to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research earlier this year.

READ MORE: Netanyahu urges European Jews to move to Israel after Denmark attack

After the shooting of a Danish Jew outside a Copenhagen synagogue in February, Netanyahu reiterated his calls. Following the attack a rally of more than 30,000 people, led by the Danish PM, marched in central Copenhagen to commemorate the victim and to protest ant-Semitism. A similar rally was held in Oslo and Stockholm as hundreds took to the streets to protest against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.