In a significant goodwill gesture, German President, Horst Köhler, lit a lamp before the Torah at the alter of the Jewish Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at Kala Ghoda on Friday morning.
Wearing a white kippah (Jewish cap), Kohler visited the synagogue and interacted personally with local Jews, with the message that “today’s generation of Germans is always on the side of the Jews”. Kohler, who was in Delhi from February 1 to 4, is on the last leg of his six-day state visit to India.
“Germans are always aware of the grave crime against humanity that took place in the World War,” said Kohler, adding that the Jews had contributed significantly to German culture for over 2000 years before the Holocaust. “It is part of our German responsibility to recognise that we are all on this planet as one humanity, whether Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Muslim.”
Kohler also expressed his regrets about the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks, urging people to fight for more tolerance in politics and the business community. “Poverty is always a source for violence and conflict, and we must do more to alleviate it.”
“Given the past links between the Germans and the Jews, we hope this historical visit will take our relationship much further in the future,” said Solomon Sopher, chairman and managing trustee of the Synagogue, while welcoming the President.
Kohler was accompanied by his wife, Eva Kohler, who praised the “new Jewish life” that is now growing within Germany.
“German Jews have started training centres for rabbis and new schools which are open to children from all communities,” she said.