Introduction / History
In 1932 the number of Jews living in Germany was estimated to be 523,000. By 1946, the number was down to almost 0. A few German Jews were able to escape the Holocaust by fleeing to other countries not controlled by the Nazis. But the large majority of German Jews were gassed, starved or worked to death. Today there are Jewish people in Germany. The primary language of the Jews of Germany is German. Some may speak Hebrew, Yiddish or another language at home depending upon their country of origin. As educated Germans, almost all also speak English.
Where Are they Located?
Most Jews in Germany live in large cities especially Berlin.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Jewish parents strongly encourage their children to pursue graduate educations. Jews often find their employment in medicine, law, higher education, science and finance. Jewish scientists win the Nobel Prize many times above their percentage of the general population. One of the big issues today for Judaism is that many Jews marry outside the faith resulting in children of mixed heritage. Conservative rabbis will only marry a mixed couple if the non-Jewish person is willing to convert to Judaism. To be considered a Jew in most Jewish circles, one must present evidence that he or she was born of a Jewish mother. Judaism is a non-evangelistic religion. The Jews do not seek converts. A non-Jew or Gentile can become a Jew only through a time of prolonged study and commitment. At the age of 13, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for a boy (or Bat Mitzvah for a girl) is an important rite of passage, which marks him or her as an adult member of the community. While these ceremonies were more spiritually focused in the past, they have become equally important as social events.
You may be surprised to learn that Jews live in Germany today.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Traditional Jews see Abraham as the father of their faith and Moses as the great lawgiver. The Law or Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, make up the Jewish holy scriptures. Judaism is a moral, fiercely monotheistic religion. One obtains favor with God by obeying the laws of the Jewish Bible. The writings of the Rabbis, the Talmud, are seen as an essential guide to knowing and following the commands of God. The two main holy days of the Jews are the Passover which celebrates the Jews leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses and the Day of Atonement in which Jews fast, pray and confess their sins. The Jewish Shabbat runs from Friday at sunset until sunset on Saturday. Religious Jews use the time to attend synagogue and to spend time with their families. Jews are known their philanthropic work and helping the less fortunate. Jews living in Germany can classified into at least four major groups. The strictest branch of Judaism is the Orthodox. They believe the Law and Prophets, what Christians call the Old Testament, is the literal, inspired Word of God and still completely binding on their lives today. The liberal or progressive branch of Judaism is called Reformed. They do not believe in the miracles of the Torah and that Judaism must be fully integrated into modern scientific world. The Conservative Jews try to find a moderate, middle path between Orthodoxy and Reformed Judaism. One final part of the Jewish population are non-religious or secular Jews who do not attend synagogue and may go to work on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. All these four groups of Jews are represented in Germany.
What Are Their Needs?
The Jews of Germany need to see that their good works can never get them right with God. The only way that God forgives sins is through death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. The Jews who accept their Jesus as Messiah are frequently led into the kingdom of God by Christians who model the love of Christ to them.
Ask the Lord to send believers to build friendships with German Jews and demonstrate God's love for them. Pray God raising up a Messianic discipleship making movement among the Jews of Germany. Pray that more and more German Jews would be willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would open the spiritual eyes of the Jews as they read and study the Old Testament.
Scripture Prayers for the Jew, German in Germany.