February 1, 2013 – Berlin – AJC’s Board of Governors, together with top German government officials and civil society leaders, joined today in celebrating the 15th anniversary of AJC Berlin’s Lawrence and Lee Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations.
AJC, the global advocacy organization, was the first American Jewish group to open a permanent office in Berlin, following decades of growing engagement with German officials, civil society and the Jewish community.
Eugene Dubow served as the founding director and was succeeded, in 2000, by Deidre Berger.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle addressed the audience of 300 invited guests at the Hotel Adlon. Westerwelle praised AJC for a series of milestones in German-Jewish relations over the past 60 years. He also lauded AJC Berlin and its director, Deidre Berger, for the key role played in successfully countering an attempt to ban circumcision in Germany, the protection of which the Minister cited as a core tenet of religious freedom.
During the celebratory event, AJC Berlin’s Ernst Cramer Award for Outstanding Contributions to American Jewish-German Understanding was presented to Lawrence and Lee Ramer, who founded the AJC Ramer Institute.
Lawrence Ramer passed away in 2012. His wife Lee accepted the award.
The award was presented by Harold Tanner, AJC's National President from 2001 to 2004 and a close friend of the Ramers. Rita Süssmuth, former President of the Federal Parliament and co-Chairperson of the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute, and Hans-Ulrich Klose, a sitting Member of Parliament, also spoke.
The first ever Ramer Award for Courage in the Defense of Democracy was also announced at Friday's celebration. The recipient was Ahmad Mansour, who, with his “Heroes” NGO, works with youth, particularly of Palestinian background, to confront one-sided narratives of Israel and anti-Semitism in the Muslim community.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has recognized AJC as a key partner for Germany. "AJC was the first Jewish organization to seek contact with Germany after the Holocaust, and AJC remains today an important partner for Germany — both in terms of dialogue with American Jewry and transatlantic relations in general," said the Chancellor at AJC's centennial celebration in 2006.