October 14, 2018 — Berlin, Germany
AJC marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of its Berlin office, the AJC Berlin Ramer Institute, with three days of high-level meetings, ceremonies, roundtable discussions with civil society figures and analysts, and gatherings with the German Jewish community. A delegation of 50 AJC leaders from across the United States took part in the program, which was highlighted by an hour-long meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The leadership group, led by AJC CEO David Harris, also met with Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister; Jens Spahn, Health Minister; Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe; Felix Klein, Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life; and other senior officials of the Federal Chancellery and the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, as well as parliamentary leaders of the Christian Democratic, Social Democratic, Free Democratic, and Green political factions in the Parliament. The delegation was also hosted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell and Israeli Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff.
In the course of the proceedings, AJC Berlin bestowed the AJC Ramer Award for Courage in the Defense of Democracy to Cem Özdemir, Member of Parliament and an outspoken foe of anti-Semitism and authoritarian regimes, and the Sidney Lefkowitz Award for Renewal of Jewish Life to Dr. Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany for his courageous and visionary leadership. Ambassadors, parliamentarians, high-level government officials, and civil society members attended both events.
“Over the past 20 years, AJC Berlin has become an essential pillar of German civil society” said Harris, who has maintained close relations with Germany for decades. “As was reaffirmed by officials at the highest levels of the German government, AJC Berlin is a critical voice on the issues shaping the future of Germany.”
Among the principal topics discussed in the group's political exchanges were challenges to transatlantic partnership, the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism, German-U.S. bilateral ties, relations between Berlin and Jerusalem, Germany's approach to Iran, the future of the European Union, and, in particular, the pressing issues of immigration, integration, and identity.
Other highlights included meetings with senior editors at Der Tagesspiegel, a lunch with alumni of the AJC-Adenauer Leadership Exchange program, and a Shabbat dinner hosted by the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue.
AJC Berlin is directed by Deidre Berger and chaired by Anthony Meyer of New York and Allan Reich of Chicago. Among the delegation members were the founding director, Eugene DuBow of Westchester, and Lee Ramer of Los Angeles, who, together with her late husband Larry, made possible the original vision for the office.