Monday, September 13, 2010

Young Israelis are moving to Berlin in droves

Growing community of Jews see the city from which Hilter unleashed the Holocaust as a place of freedom, tolerance, and an anything-goes spirit

BERLIN — Nirit Bialer, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, welcomes listeners in Hebrew to a one-hour radio show of music, talk and interviews. The setting isn't her native Israel but a radio station in the heart of the German capital — and hundreds of Israeli Berliners are tuning in.

The city from which Hitler unleashed the genocide of six million Jews is now attracting a small but growing community of Jews from Israel for whom it embodies freedom, tolerance, and an anything-goes spirit.

"Berlin has become a real magnet for Israelis — everybody wants to move here," said Bialer, 32, whose Friday noon "Kol Berlin," Hebrew for "the voice of Berlin," started three years ago and is something of an institution for young Israelis in Berlin.

Nobody knows exactly how many Israelis have moved here in recent years; unofficial estimates suggest 9,000 to 15,000 — far fewer than the 120,000 Jews who lived in Berlin before the Nazis came to power in 1933.

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