Jewish couple weds at Berlin square to protest anti-Semitism

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A couple wed under a chuppah at one of Berlin’s central squares as a rejoinder to a spike in expressions of anti-Semitism.

The ceremony, held last week at Potsdamer Platz, follows a an increase over the summer in anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin and elsewhere, most of them linked to tensions in the Middle East.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, the director of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Educational Center in Berlin, identified the couple as Igor and Elina, immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He did not give a family name.

One hundred guests were invited to the an open-air wedding ceremony at this main traffic and pedestrian junction and countless passersby took note. An estimated 70,000 people cross the plaza on a daily basis.

Teichtal said he convinced the couple not to have the ceremony at a hotel or in the enclosed Jewish center but on the street, in the heart of Berlin, as a “demonstration” against recent anti-Semitic incidents.

He said passersby took photos of the unprecedented event.

“We should not hide as in the past, stash our identifying characteristics or avoid speaking in Hebrew as some parts of the Jewish Berliner street claim,” said Teichtal, who conducted the ceremony.

“Our answer to anti-Semitism should be elevating Jewish pride, externalizing of our Jewish characteristics and deepening our connection to our magnificent tradition,” he said.

A more formal demonstration against anti-Semitism is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 14, at the nearby Brandenburg Gate. Organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the rally is expected to draw a broad spectrum of political and religious leaders. The event will be live-streamed.