On 25th June Trustees of the Foundation, diplomats and communal leaders from around the world marked the opening of the Pears Jewish Campus, Germany’s largest Jewish centre since World War II and one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Run by Berlin’s Chabad-Lubavitch community the seven-storey building includes a school with over 500 students, an indoor basketball court and gym, a cinema, a music studio and a kosher food shop.
Prior to the Holocaust, Berlin was Germany’s largest Jewish community with a population of around 160,000 Jews. But by the end of World War II, the population had been decimated to 7,000. Today, the Jewish population of Berlin is slowly recovering with an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Jews, many of them from the former Soviet Union with several thousand additional Ukrainian Jews arriving over the past year. The new Pears Judishe Center will serve not only them, but also members of other religions. The 8,000 square metre building cost €40million, most of which came from federal and state governments, with Pears Foundation offering significant capital support.
Berlin Chabad director Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal said: “The idea is to create awareness and knowledge of what Jewish life is about. It’s not just about fighting antisemitism. It has to be connected with positivity. There are millions of Germans who don’t even know what Jews are. Let’s have positive cooperation, face to face, through dialogue, through shared, positive, joyful, lively, future-oriented Jewish life.”
At the opening ceremony Governing Mayor of Berlin Kai Wegner said: “This is a special day for Berlin, a special day for Germany,” and emphasised the city’s obligation to continue to “support and secure” Jewish life in Germany.
Sir Trevor Pears attended the opening ceremony and said “Our family is proud to be a part of such an incredibly positive story and to have played a small part in helping to bring this remarkable campus to life.”