Do Jews get a discount when they buy a car? Do they own McDonald’s? Do Jews control the media and international banking? Do any of them live here anymore?
These are among the questions German schoolchildren ask Jews who volunteer in a new outreach program with the provocative name “Rent A Jew.”
The Jews in question are not actually “rented,” since they volunteer their time. But they do present themselves as living exhibits of something young Germans hear about constantly — thanks to their curricula on Germany and to the Holocaust — but rarely see: living, talking, walking Jews as they live their lives today.
The program — launched in 2015 by the Munich-based European Janusz Korczak Academy in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel, which provides funding – is beginning to catch on. The program, which visited just one school in its inaugural year, presented a “rented” Jew to students in five schools in 2016. For 2017 Rent a Jew has booked its presentation in 24 schools for just the first five months, through May.
Many of these schools are in small towns, such as Gross Kreutz or Meuncheberg, where there are no Jews at all today.
In fact, most Germans have never met a Jew, according to Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public broadcasting system. There are 100,000 Jews registered with Jewish communities in Germany, a tiny fraction of Germany’s population of 82.7 million.