Financial crisis hits German rabbi training college

Tue Oct 21, 2008 11:10am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The global financial crisis is threatening the existence of the first rabbinical seminary to be established in central Europe since the Holocaust, staff said on Tuesday.

The Abraham Geiger College, which belongs to the University of Potsdam near Berlin, relies largely on American and European donors and sponsors to finance its programs.

"In the face of the economic turmoil, many of our sponsors can't afford to support us anymore," Hartmut Bomhoff, a lecturer at college told Reuters.

The college is short of at least 250,000 euros ($331,100) in donations which it needs to survive.

"We are under immense time pressure and if the government doesn't respond to our appeal for state funding, I can't see a future for the institution," added Bomhoff.

The college was founded in 1999 and in 2006 it became the first institution to train rabbis for ordination in Germany since the Holocaust, in which some 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

It relies on sponsors and donors for more than a quarter of its funding while the bulk of the college's costs are covered by the federal government, the state of Brandenburg and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

"Political talks are underway to see what can be done, but I see no solution as yet," rector of the College, Rabbi Walter Homolka wrote in a press statement.

(Reporting by Josie Cox; Editing by Richard Balmforth)