“How many of you have met a Jew?” At a technical college in Solingen, Western Germany, 15 out of 20 cautious teenagers answer with just as many variations of no.
“I’ve most likely crossed paths with one,” says one student. “But I wouldn’t necessarily know.”
That’s where “Rent-a-Jew” steps in. “You never forget your first,” the project’s tagline reads. The initiative – with its admittedly provocative name – was launched by the Munich-based European Janusz Korczak Academy.
The program’s 50 members are leading seminars with private groups and educational establishments across Germany. In reaching out to non-Jews, the initiative aims to provide the opportunity to socialize with the Jewish community and break down prejudices in the process. Among them is Moscow-born Mascha Schmerling and Hanoverian Monty Aviel Zeev Ott.
But what’s in the name? “We know it’s questionable. It’s there to provoke, to promote conversation,” Schmerling told DW.
“People don’t trust themselves to say ‘Jew,'” Ott said. “But …