BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s government decided Wednesday to reintroduce military rabbis, backing a proposal by the Central Council of Jews to restore religious counseling for Jews serving in the armed forces after more than a century without such assistance.
“Today, we set an important example for our Jewish soldiers,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer tweeted after the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said the addition of military rabbis was a clear commitment to Jewish life in Germany.
The German army does not document the religious affiliations of its members. But according to estimates about 300 Jews, 1,400 Muslims and 94,000 Christians are in the Bundeswehr armed forces, German media reported.
The German army has only Catholic and Lutheran chaplains, but there are plans to also introduce Muslim religious counseling in the Bundeswehr, the government said.
During World War I, many Jews fought for Germany. Rabbis were relatively common in the military until Adolf Hitler’s Nazis came to power in 1933 and excluded Jews from all spheres of public life.