Jewish Community (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde)
Metropolitan Vienna today boasts a vibrant, reborn Jewish Community (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde). This is clearly borne out by its manifold initiatives including schools, social and care facilities as well as various cultural and sports events. Special attention should be paid to the new campus in Vienna’s Prater area, which houses a school centre, a retirement home and grounds for the Hakoah sports club.
Starting from very modest beginnings, the Jewish Community has successfully completed a remarkable internal and external development over the past decades and today may justly be proud of its self-confident standing. This success was not attained easily. After 1945, the main goal was the re-establishment of the exterminated community and of religious and social structures. With the exception of the City Temple, whose interior had been destroyed as well, hardly any legacy of old Jewish culture had survived in Vienna. Since the Community was anything but numerous, imbuing it with life proved a difficult task. Yet despite the different currents represented by its members, the integrative power of the Community was strong enough to establish unity. The new Jewish Community was significantly enlarged by the arrival of formerly displaced persons from Eastern Europe (after 1945) and of Jews from the republics of the former Soviet Union (in the 1970s and 1980s). In recent decades, the number of members has remained constant at approximately 7,000 despite the emigration of many young people.
The Jewish Community is a clearly structured body. Its President is elected by the Community Board for a five-year term. The President represents the Community, supervises the sessions of the Community Board and monitors the implementation of the resolutions of the Community Board and advisory body. Dr. Ariel Muzicant took over the executive functions of President in April 1998. He is assisted by two Vice Presidents. Vice Presidents are elected for half-length terms by the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors tasks two General Secretaries with the handling of all ordinary business. One officer is responsible for the intellectual and moral aims of the Jewish Community, such as rites, culture, public relations, social issues, education and security, while the second Secretary General is accountable for financial and organisational matters. It is the task of the Secretaries General to manage the affairs of the Community in accordance with the directives and resolutions of the Community Board. The 24 Community Board members are elected every five years by the Community members.
All religious questions come under the competence of Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg and Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister:
- Circumcisions, name-giving ceremonies, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, weddings, divorces and funerals
- Counselling and decisions on Halakhic and ritual questions
- Inspectorate for Jewish religious instruction and school-leaving exams in religious education
- Lectures and seminars
- Contacts with rabbinates in other countries (Europe, Israel, USA)
- Psychological assistance in crises, sickbed visits, care for prison inmates, shiva minyan
- Contacts with the media and representatives of culture and politics, interdenominational contacts
The Birth, Death and Marriage Register of the Jewish Community provides information on its members both past and present. These activities comprise:
- Contacts with all members (new members, membership fees)
- Keeping of old registers of births, death and marriages
- Monitoring of population development after 1945
- Information on deportations between 1939 and 1945
- Genealogical information on the basis of old registers
- Assistance in pension applications on the basis of old registers
Mag. Wolf-Erich Eckstein
Dr. Ingeborg Bauer-Manhart (Municipal Department 53)