German Jewish women form new network

berlin | They are architects, art historians, psychologists and academics. They are Jewish women. And they are in Germany.

Until recently, that was all they had in common. But now these women have another tie that binds them: a German Jewish women’s network.

“A Network of Jewish Women in Economics, Research, Media and Institutions” was launched recently with a daylong conference of workshops and panel discussions at the Jewish Community Center in Berlin.

The network is seen as a sign of the growing confidence of Germany’s Jewish community.

Project initiators said they aim above all to build professional connections, foster mentors and role models and overcome career obstacles in a society where more than 90 percent of upper level professionals are men.

During a brainstorming session, several women offered ideas about what the network might accomplish.

“I want to help create a platform not only for job seekers but to help generate new career ideas,” one woman said.

Another said she was “interested in a network within the university, both for researchers and to help new students — to have someone to help show the way.”

“We should deal with questions that arise for women when their children leave home and they want to start working,” one participant said.

Charlotte Knobloch, a vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and president of the Jewish community of Munich, said the network should have Jewish content.

It must be informed by “Jewish traditions, a Jewish way of life, a life built on Jewish values,” she said.

“We will learn to treasure each other, not because we reflect each other,” she said, “but exactly because we are different from one another.”

The new professional network goes beyond the world of Jewish religious and communal institutions, reaching out to women in all fields, as well as to homemakers and retirees.

Toby Axelrod

Toby Axelrod is JTA’s correspondent for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A former assistant director of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office, she has also worked as staff writer and editor at the New York Jewish Week and published books on Holocaust history for teenagers.