Between faith and the constitution Jewish general

Freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion and ideology are inviolable. The undisturbed practice of religion is guaranteed »: This is what Article 4 of the 1949 Constitution states.

But what does this look like in everyday life? What rights to a religious Jewish life are guaranteed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, and where are the boundaries? These and many other issues went into more depth last week at a high-caliber conference in the Department of Education for the Central Council of Jews in Berlin.

freedom of religion Peter Müller, a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, explained that the wording on religious freedom in Article 4 was in fact an “emergency solution” because the fathers and mothers of the Constitution could not agree and had taken over the right to self-determination of Weimar religious communities. Reich Constitution panel debate on Friday.

More than 100 experts, including several lawyers and politicians, had previously dealt with the topic of the conference in workshops and discussions.

Previously, more than 100 experts, including numerous lawyers and politicians, had dealt with the topic of the conference in workshops and discussions, including various international treaties and rules, for example on exams on Jewish holidays in the individual federal states.

On Wednesday, Josef Schuster, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and the parliamentary secretary of state in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Benjamin Strasser (FDP), welcomed the participants. “Today we are not talking about whether, but how Jewish life is related to German law today. I would particularly like to emphasize this transition from if to how: from the new beginning of Jewish life in Germany after 1945 as a stop to emigration, as a temporary arrangement, to a clear commitment to stay, “Schuster said.

relationship of trust He cited the signing of the State Treaty on Jewish Military Priests as an example of how the growing relationship of trust was expressed. “We must recognize that this relationship can also be questioned. We have seen this, for example, in the circumcision debate in recent years, ”said the chairman of the central council.

He then warned: “If a candidate in our immediate neighbor France today in the election for the highest state office can achieve a result of almost 42 percent with a program that wants to ban the wearing of religious symbols in public space, then show us ( …), how fragile a societal consensus on religious freedom, allegedly taken for granted, can be ‘.

Justice Minister Strasser announced that the new governing coalition had “much planned in terms of religious policy,” for example, in terms of replacing state services for churches. He referred to an application from the FDP, Alliance 90 / The Greens and the Liberal Party, which was rejected in the Bundestag a year ago.

At the same time, Strasser emphasized in connection with the circumcision law from 2012: “Anyone who really wants a lively Jewish life in Germany must also set the legal framework in such a way that it is possible in practice. This applies to both circumcision and the possibility of postponing exam dates due to a religious writing ban. ”

THE HOUSE RULE Central Council leader Daniel Botmann spoke metaphorically about Judaism as a large house with “house rules”. As with any multi-party house, it is necessary to have a property manager ”who acts as a contact person internally and externally and ensures that the house rules are complied with. In our case, this property administration has the status of a public law company and is called in Germany the Central Council of the Jews. As a starting point, the property management does not please everyone, and yet it is the guarantee that the house is well-maintained and functional, “Botmann explained.

“A kippa is not a fashion accessory, and a ban on writing is not a whim.”

daniel botmann, executive director of the central jewish council

It also means that “according to the house rules of the Jewish house it is not permitted to write certain days, men and sometimes women wear kippa, ungulates with straight toes are slaughtered and boys are circumcised”. A kippa is “not a fashion accessory”, and a writing ban is not a whim, stressed the director of the Central Jewish Council.

Angelika Noa Günzel, head of the military rabbinate in Berlin, said: “Autonomy and law seem to be opposites. Autonomy seems to stand for self-determination; the law, on the other hand, is associated with restrictions and heteronomy.” But traditional Judaism has a different view of this: it is “primarily about the execution of the law, the fulfillment of the will of the Eternal, then, one would think, only about foreign determination.”

At the same time, however, it is partly only through injunctions and prohibitions of conduct that it becomes possible to concentrate on the essentials and achieve something that would not have been possible in any other way.

A good example of this is the rules of the Sabbath. “The limitation creates space for other things: time for conversations, for family and friends, for prayer, time to read, to sleep, to ask what is really important for one’s own life,” Günzel emphasized.

SHAFT In his lecture on the subject of slaughter, Peter Unruh, law professor at the University of Göttingen and president of the regional church office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in northern Germany, described the problems facing the Jewish community throughout Europe.

“Kashrut and Shechita are among the religious identity features of Judaism. For significant currents in Judaism, the ban on prior anesthesia of animals for slaughter to obtain kosher meat is also constitutive,” Unruh said, adding: “The permissibility of slaughter without anesthesia is not uniform. regulated in the Member States by the European Union. “

The European Court of Justice recently ruled in its Schächten III judgment that the balance between the Union’s fundamental right to religious freedom and the EU animal protection clause does not stand in the way of a Member State’s ban on slaughter without stunning: ” the opposite is also the case in accordance with EU law, because Member States have a wide range of discretion. “

the majority society Doron Kiesel, Scientific Director of the Department of Education, stressed at the beginning of the conference that the individual and collective right to religious freedom must not be limited by challenges from the majority society, otherwise it can be changed again and again and interpreted according to. the spirit of the times.

“Jewish families can only accept and recognize this land as their land if they are not denied the basic forms of celebration and mourning, eating and closeness to God that are conveyed in the Jewish religion and tradition. “The withdrawal or atrophy of this right would correspond to an initially legal and ultimately demographic exclusion of Jewish society from Germany,” Kiesel said.

In Friday’s concluding discussion entitled “Jewish Society as a Minority Religion in Germany – Between Stubbornness and Conformity”, some very specific issues were addressed. Hetty Berg, director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, inquired about the possibility of also giving non-Jewish staff time off on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – the museum is closed to visitors on the high Jewish holidays. “There is no law in the Federal Republic of Germany that precludes this,” said Constitutional Judge Müller.

Obligation Juliane Seifert (SPD), State Secretary in the Federal Interior Ministry, was “very impressed with the program’s abundance”. German society is becoming more diverse, and the “majority is changing” when it comes to adherents of different religions. The basis of our constitution is “still very good and up-to-date” with the commitment of the state.

In addition, however, it should be ensured that different groups and religions could find themselves in society and participate: “Neutrality does not mean that people do not talk to each other, but responsibility,” says Seifert.

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