“Greed is at the core of the malaise”

A hush falls as the man at the front of the lectern with the kippah on his head and the prayer shawl around his neck raises his voice. In sharp words, the state rabbi emeritus Henry G denounces the Jewish community's "greed. Brandt addresses social grievances in the Reimarussaal of Hamburg's Patriotic Society. He speaks of "that there were no limits", that everything always had to be higher, faster, better, further: "The glass palaces of banks and insurance companies sprouted like mushrooms, the department stores overflowed with goods from all over the world"."The "core of the malaise" is greed, "greed for possessions, power, for honor".

Among the 300 or so listeners in the hall, some seem irritated. For at first glance, the words of the state rabbi have nothing at all to do with the topic of the evening. Brandt speaks at the community celebration to mark the beginning of the "Week of Brotherhood," which in the shadow of the controversy over Holocaust denier Richard Williamson is intended above all to be a demonstration of the good relationship between Christians and Jews in the country. Brandt is the Jewish chairman of the organizing German Coordinating Council of Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (GCJZ). Their nationwide week of events this year is themed "1949-2009: There's Never Been So Much Awakening". Also in Hamburg, the central opening ceremony took place on Sunday, at which this year the Catholic theologian Erich Zenger from Munster was awarded the traditionally awarded Buber-Rosenzweig Medal. Only on closer inspection does the connection of Brandt's social criticism with the theme of the community celebration become apparent. In the face of the crisis, he said, it is crucial that Christians and Jews together, "defend and preserve the values we uphold, that we again invoke solidarity and speak the word of justice". The scholar thus diverts attention away from the focus on an interreligious dispute and toward the real challenge for Christians and Jews: the joint struggle against a brutalization of society in a time of crisis. On this evening, Brandt goes one step further than the Christian leaders sitting next to him in the front row, Hamburg's Bishop Maria Jepsen and Archbishop Werner Thissen. In their commitment to brotherhood with the Jews, however, both do not lack clarity. "The poison of anti-Semitism has no place in the church. This applies to all forms of anti-Semitism, whether overt or covert, subtle or violent," Thissen exclaims. Anti-Semitism also lays the axe to the root of the Christian faith: "Christians who disregard Jews disregard themselves. For they disregard their own roots."Jepsen also acknowledges the common roots in her theologically informed address. "The Old Testament is no more obsolete than the ancient people of God," she says, "the people of Israel have not been disinherited. And Jewish faith does not carry in itself deficiencies in relation to Christian, as has been and is claimed in church history to this day." While a "fork in the road" can be seen in the Acts of the Apostles, a disengagement and separation of Christians from the Jewish faith, the bishop said. But "Moses, the prophets and psalms, the holy scriptures of Israel", they would retain their validity for the disciples of Jesus. Jepsen clarified: "Whoever in the church ignores these statements of faith and elevates himself above the people of Israel and the Jewish brothers and sisters then and now, leaves the foundation of our Christian faith."Clear words of the three religious representatives, which mark an appropriate start of the Week of Fraternity.

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