The Deutscher Koordinierungsrat der Gesellschaften für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit (DKR – German coordinating council for Christian-Jewish cooperation organisations) honoured Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal on Tuesday. The award ceremony was originally planned for 2020 but had to be postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony was now held at the Federal Chancellery. The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said he felt it was still the right moment to present the award because Merkel’s entire period in office deserved recognition.
“It remains our ongoing duty to strengthen and protect Jewish life in Germany,” said Federal Chancellor Merkel. Here she cited the attack in Halle in October 2019, anti-Semitic riots at synagogues, the trivialisation of the Holocaust at demonstrations against the measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic and repeated attacks on men wearing a kippah. Such incidents should not be tolerated, said the Federal Chancellor. She called on society to use all the means at its disposal – not least the full force of the rule of law – to combat racism, anti-Semitism and indeed any form of hostility towards human beings based on their belonging to a certain group. “I regard the award of the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal as an honour, but more than anything else as an incentive in this day and age to maintain our ongoing commitment to the values of democracy, tolerance and the dignity of the individual. It is respect for these values that forms the basis of solidarity in our society,” said Merkel.
The medal is named after Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig and is awarded for outstanding commitment to promoting understanding between Christians and Jews, whether in the academic, political or social domain. Since 1968 the medal has regularly been awarded at the opening ceremony of Brotherhood Week, which was held for the first time in 1952. Since then, Christian-Jewish cooperation organisations have organised events each year to raise awareness of their aims and focus on an annual theme or motto. In 2020, this was: “Open your mouth for others” – the need to take a stand against abuse, oppose injustice and support those who are weaker.
There are now more than 80 organisations dedicated to promoting Christian-Jewish cooperation in Germany: their aim is to achieve improved understanding between Christians and Jews as well as peaceful coexistence between nations and religions. The first such organisations were established in 1948/49 in Munich, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart and Berlin. The winner of this year’s Buber-Rosenzweig Medal is theatre director and stage manager Christian Stückl.