It was reported on Monday that Germany’s Bundeswehr (armed forces) has appointed Rabbi Zsolt Balla as the first military rabbi since the post was abolished by the Nazis. The Orthodox Rabbi is also Germany’s first non-Christian military chaplain in almost 90 years
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Balla says that his mother fully supports his new role and, like him, believes that only by confronting the horrors of the past can you look to the future.
Speaking to Forces News in Leipzig, Rabbi Balla said that he hoped to help change the perception of the German armed forces for the country’s Jewish community. He said that Jewish people “felt very uncomfortable serving in the Bundeswehr” after WW2, adding: “Our goal is that one day the Bundeswehr will reflect German society exactly the same way as…armies in the Netherlands, or in the United States, or the UK. To make sure that Jews feel comfortable to come and serve in these armed forces.”
After a recent rise in antisemitic incidents, Germany has banned the Hamas flag. Hamas, the antisemitic genocidal terrorist group, clashed with Israel in May, which lead to widespread antisemitism in Germany with several people arrested.
A recent study found that antisemitic incidents have increased in Germany, with more reported incidents occurring in 2020 than in 2019.