“This is a historic moment for Hamburg. For more than three years we’ve been without a chief rabbi,” said Roy Naor, a member of the Board of Directors of the city’s Jewish community in a conversation with lubavitch.com shortly after the election results were announced.
“Today constitutes a new beginning for the Jews of this city.”
In his role as Chabad representative, the 34 year-old Rabbi Bistritsky, originally from Israel, has been serving Hamburg’s Jewish population of about 8000 for the last eight years. But the new position will help him enrich Jewish life there immeasurably, he said.
Speaking by phone with lubavitch.com from his home as well-wishers poured in to congratulate him, Rabbi Bistritsky, whose grandfather grew up in Hamburg, said the election “confirms that the Jewish community recognizes and appreciates the work and dedication of Chabad.”
Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany with densely population urban areas, is one of only three city states in Germany. The other two are Berlin and Bremen.
From the 17th century until the Holocaust, Hamburg together with Altona and Wandsbek, formed a great Jewish religious and cultural center.Among the great rabbis who served there were the famed 18th century talmudist, Rabbi Yacov Emden, and his rival, the mystic Rabbi Yonasan Eybschutz.
In 1933, Hamburg had a Jewish population of about 20,000. About half perished during the Holocaust. The rest were dispersed and by 1947 the city counted only 1,268 Jews.