As a little boy in Germany, Dayan Ehrentreu saw Jewish citizens being harassed, Jewish businesses plundered and synagogues destroyed. Eventually the events of Reichspogromnacht in November 1938 forced him and his family to flee Germany. Today he is receiving one of the highest honours this country has to bestow.
Founding father of the Rabbinerseminar
Many would never again have set foot in Germany. But not Rabbi Ehrentreu. The Rabbinerseminar in Berlin, which had been closed since 1938, reopened in 2009 under his leadership. He heads the Rabbinerseminar to this day, and it has developed into one of the leading institutions for the training of Orthodox rabbis in Europe.
It is thanks to people like Ehrentreu that the Jewish community, which numbered a mere 20,000 or so in the 1950s, has grown to over 100,000 today. In his speech at the presentation ceremony, Foreign Minister Gabriel pointed out that
It is an unwarranted gift that Jews have chosen to live in Germany after the Shoah. We are deeply grateful for this vote of confidence, confidence in our democratic state and the security and freedom it guarantees. For the German Government, this vote of confidence is an obligation. It is an obligation to do our utmost to keep Jewish life in Germany flourishing. It is an obligation to ensure the safety of our fellow Jewish citizens. And it is an obligation to combat anti Semitism in all its forms.
We can only fulfil this obligation if we work hand in hand with Jewish institutions and Jewish civil society, in Germany and abroad. We can only fulfil this obligation if we work hand in hand with Jewish institutions and Jewish civil society, in Germany and abroad. You are one of our eminent partners in this endeavour. You not only lit a candle, but became the beacon of Jewish education in this country.“