Abraham Geiger College facing financial problems

Abraham Geiger College facing financial problems

Germany’s first postwar rabbinical program is being threatened by the worldwide financial crisis, its rector said. Rabbi Walter Homolka, the rector of the Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam, said the college’s U.S. and Europe-based donors have suffered severe losses and are cutting back on support.
The financial problems follow an announcement just a few weeks ago to add a cantorial school to the college. However, everything seems to be in jeopardy.
“We may go belly-up,” Homolka wrote in an e-mail.
With its founding in 1999, the college was the first liberal rabbinical seminary in Continental Europe since the Holocaust. In 2006 it became the first institution to ordain rabbis in Germany since the Holocaust. According to Homolka, the budget for 2009 is about $1.45 million. Nearly half is covered through the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Brandenburg and the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Potsdam legislator Klara Geywitz, vice chair of the Social Democratic Party in Brandenburg, recently urged a quick rescue action from the state. A decision by the ministers of education and cultural affairs from all the German states as to whether to add another $340,000 is expected in December, Homolka said. Homolka also said the college “had calculated to raise 257,000 Euro [$349,000] ourselves. And this is impossible since the fund-raising results have totally collapsed due to the acute financial crisis.
“Political talks are underway to see what can be done,” he wrote, “but I can see no solutions as yet.”
Rabbi Walter Jacob, the president of Abraham Geiger, ordained the college’s first class of rabbi’s a year ago, when the school graduated its first five rabbi’s. There were five students accepted into the first cantorial program, which has already begun. Whether or not the curriculum will continue, is up in the air.
Attempts to reach Jacob this week were not successful.