November 6, 2012 – New York – AJC mourns the passing of Lawrence Ramer, a long-time member of the global Jewish advocacy organization’s Board of Governors, and founder of AJC Berlin’s Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations. Ramer was 84 years old.
“Larry Ramer was a visionary,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “He was one of the first to understand German unification as an opportunity for advancing global security, for transatlantic relations, and relations with Israel. This is a great loss for AJC, for the Jewish world, and for the numerous cultural and academic institutions which he supported with passion.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that “Ramer was a great architect of German-American understanding and a true friend of Germany.” The German government honored Ramer in 2000 with the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit in recognition of his achievements in enhancing German-Jewish relations.
The AJC Berlin Ramer Institute was created in 1993 to foster German-Jewish dialogue, support post-war democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany, advance German-Israeli relations, and monitor anti-Semitism and extremism. When the Institute moved to Berlin in 1998, global media covering the gala opening called AJC’s presence in Berlin an “embassy” of the American Jewish community.
Under Ramer’s leadership, AJC Berlin has strengthened enduring partnerships with foundations from all political parties, deepened understanding among opinion leaders of relations with Israel, initiated programs to fight anti-Semitism, launched an outreach to Germany’s large Turkish community, and created civic education programs with German educators now used widely in schools in Berlin and Brandenburg.
“Larry Ramer’s faith in cooperation and partnership with Germany was a model of reconciliation,” said Deidre Berger, director of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute, who worked closely with Ramer since 1999.
“He was tireless in upholding Holocaust remembrance, while reminding others to be mindful of the need to secure democracy and promote security of the Jewish people. He was beloved for his forthright engagement and commitment to common transatlantic values,” Berger continued. “His presence will be deeply missed, while we carry on the mission of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute.”
Ramer was co-chair with Dr. Rita Suessmuth, former President of the German Parliament, of the Ramer Institute Advisory Board, which includes notable public leaders in Germany and the United States. During decades of involvement with AJC, Ramer served on the organization’s Executive Committee for many years.
Ramer is survived by his wife, Lee, his children Doug, Stephanie and Susan, and their families, and his brother Bruce Ramer, who served as AJC National President from 1998 to 2001.