The Jewish Community of Berlin has more than 11,000 members, making it the largest community of registered Jews in Germany today. Two thirds of its members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Its makeup is quite unique in Europe in that Orthodox, Liberal and Reform congregations are united under one umbrella organisation, providing an impressive integrative potential for new immigrants.

In the early 1990s, the Welfare Department of the Jewish Community of Berlin was the first point of contact for Jewish immigrants arriving from the former Soviet Union. The department was set up to resolve problems arising from the massive waves of immigration. 

In 1998, the Jewish community established the Integration Office in order to deal with issues related to the acclimatization of immigrants (newcomers and earlier immigrants) from around the world. The office has taken on the tasks of job training, socio-political and economic education as well as language training for immigrants from the former Soviet Union – a broad range of social services. The office gives immigrants of all ages assistance in finding employment, in orienting themselves in their new environment as well as in networking and making new contacts. Such assistance speeds up the process of orientation and integration. With the recent dramatic drop in Jewish immigration since implementation of Germany’s new immigration law in 2005, the Integration Office has focused its attention on the community’s younger members, who are vital to the community’s future. 

The Integration Office is managed by:

  • Dr. Michael Liokumovitsch
  • Dimitri Feldman
  • Dr. Josef Eljaschewitsch
  • Lala Süsskind, Chairman of the Jewish Community
  • Margarita Bardich, head of the department since 2009, deputy board member

Integration is a multifaceted and multidimensional process, which the Jewish community takes seriously. Its integration policy focuses on the following themesSocio-economic (career) integration, cultural, social and civil integration, integration in Jewish life, intercultural openness. In recent years, the community has defined these themes more precisely, as each of them has evolved. Today, a team of experts runs a full-fledged service, developing guidelines on integration policy based on public consensus and setting priorities to enable the pursuit of this policy on a broader basis.

Our target groups are members of Berlin’s Jewish community and their immediate families. Our goal is to help them better integrate into German society and into local Jewish communities. All community members qualify for this assistance regardless of their current civil/legal status. For the Integration Office, what matters most is the current life situation of anyone seeking help. By working together with specific focus groups, the Integration Office is able to pool its resources effectively, concentrating on the strengths and weaknesses of each group.
The Integration Office works with partners in Berlin, elsewhere in Germany, and worldwide.

The Integration Office’s work aims to:

  • educate and integrate immigrants; provide them with basic language skills needed for employment or for taking part in social activities; provide them with the necessary tools for adapting to the requirements of everyday life.
  • provide career counselling, particularly for those who are difficult to place. Everyone seeking a job receives assistance and encouragement – young and old alike.
  • introduce community members to German-Jewish and Russian-Jewish history.
  • promote dialogue between German- and Russian-speaking community members. 

The Integration Office also helps community members petition the authorities for permanent residency permits and fill out application forms for citizenship. Our tasks are many: we can assist members in obtaining identity cards, in moving to Berlin from within Germany and abroad in the context of family unification, in answering inquiries about the exchange of passports for members from the former Soviet Union. The office counsels, on average, 1,600 people per year.