The traditional Viennese coffeehouse Prückel offers “coffee-chat” online with the book-lover Bücherwurm café in Tel Aviv

Vienna’s Mayor Dr. Michael Häupl sends Jewish New Year greetings to Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, 27 September 2011 – The “Bücherwurm” café in the Tel Aviv city centre began the first ever online “coffee-chat” link-up with the traditional Viennese coffeehouse “Prückel” today. This new Internet chat facility was launched by the Mayors of the two cities Dr. Michael Häupl (Vienna) and Ron Huldai (Tel Aviv), who exchanged greetings through Internet and video.

An Internet link for coffeehouse lovers in Vienna and Tel Aviv has been set up on an initiative of the Israeli Embassy in Vienna in cooperation with the Austrian Embassy in Tel Aviv and supported by the Vienna Coffeehouse Proprietors’ Club. The new communication channel for like-minded users in the two cities is open from today. It offers a unique opportunity for communication between people who value the shared coffeehouse tradition.

As from now, online coffee-chats will be offered in Vienna at the “Markusplatz” and the “Korb” cafés among others. Full information on all the locations is available from the Internet pages of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Tel Aviv and from the Embassy of the State of Israel in Vienna.

For further inquiries please contact:
Austrian Embassy, Tel Aviv
Phone: +972 (3) 612 0924
Fax. +972 (3) 751 07 16
E-mail: tel-aviv-ob(at)

Kennedy Center recital 10/12 of Austrian composers who fled Nazis and came to the U.S.

Celebrated baritone Mathias Hausmann presents “From Austria with Love”, a recital of works by composers who fled Nazism for the safety of America, at Washington's Kennedy Center on October 12.

Mathias Hausmann

Many of the composers wrote music for Hollywood films, and Hausmann will be performing their movie songs as well as their classical works. The Austrian baritone has created a sensation across Europe, Japan - and at the Hollywood Bowl - as well as here in Washington.

Click here to read the full story on

Young Austria. Exile in England

The Austrian Non-Profit KunstPlatzl documents stories and photographs of early so-called Young Austrians, the Exile Youth Organization in Great Britain, which acted as an anti-fascist movement. The Young Austrians interviewed for this project today are between 85 and 95 years old.

The project also documented those already passed away through the help of descendants and the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DOW). Initiated by Erich Herzl and Sonja Frank, the project aims to keep the stories of Young Austrians alive, primarily through the use of photographs, and also chronicles the political engagement after World War II.

The exhibit will be on display at the Volkshochschule Hietzing in Vienna during March 2012.

Happy Hanukkah!

The Ambassador of Austria to the United States, Hans Peter Manz and David Farber, President of AJC Washington lighting Hanukkah Candles.

Embassy of Austria Hosts AJC for First Ever Hanukkah Reception

Washington, DC – American Jewish Committee (AJC) Leadership and ACCESS DC, AJC’s New Generation Program, joined Austrian Diplomats to celebrate Hanukkah on December 19, 2011. The reception, hosted at the Austrian Embassy, was attended by over 70 young professionals and diplomats. This was the first Hanukkah reception hosted by the Embassy of Austria.

The evening program featured remarks by Austrian Ambassador Hans Peter Manz, as well as AJC Washington Board President David Farber, and ACCESS DC’s Co-chairs, Jeremiah Baronberg and Eddie Cohen.  Ambassador Manz noted that the joint Hanukkah celebration marks the beginning of a new tradition at the Austrian Embassy in Washington. 

Recollecting Karl Wahle

Heinz Mayer, Josef Aicher, Hannah Lessing, Francis Wahle and Franz-Stefan Meissel (from left). © Michael Rausch-Schott

On 11th October 2011, the National Fund of the Republic of Austria held an event featuring the contemporary witness Francis Wahle to mark the 10th anniversary of the Arbitration Panel for In Rem Restitution and the presentation of volume 4 of its decisions.

Read the full report on the pages of the National Fund

Rabbi David Rosen on founding the Saudi Center in Vienna: “Jews have to take risks“

Original Article published by October 12, 2011

German original:

Interview by Maria Sterkl, October 12, 2011

Rabbi David Rosen is the only Jewish representative at the controversial Institute for interreligious dialogue in Vienna. We asked him why he agreed to take on this difficult job.

The decision to make Vienna the seat of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre, which will be financed by Saudi Arabia, has created a lot of commotion; many people think that you cannot name a center for interreligious dialogue after the king of a country that treats religious freedom with contempt. Foreign Minister Spindelegger’s solemn act of signing the founding treaty on Thursday will probably create further protests. We interviewed Rabbi David Rosen, who will be the institute’s only Jewish board member, asking him why he would put himself in that difficult position. Rabbi, you are the only member of the interreligious center who is officially not allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia simply because you are Jewish. Why are you still willing to be a on the Board of Directors?

Rabbi David Rosen: I know a few Jews who have actually traveled to Saudi Arabia, and I think that I will be able to as well. The Saudis can use this opportunity to show that they have serious intentions of improving the interreligious relationship; after all, they will have to provide proper accommodation for me in Saudi Arabia. Was it a tough decision for you whether or not to join the Board of Directors as the only Jewish board member?

Rabbi David Rosen: No. I was already present at the first interreligious meeting with King Abdullah in Madrid, and I was impressed by his plans to improve Saudi Arabia’s behavior towards other faiths in his country. It has been a very slow process, but I still consider it vital to support it. It is in the interest of all the different faiths to support this process. When did the idea of founding this institute emerge?

Rabbi David Rosen: The meeting took place four years ago in Madrid; King Abdullah wanted to promote interreligious dialogue. His advisors had apparently told him that it would not be the best idea to hold that meeting in Saudi Arabia because its society would not yet be ready for this kind of dialogue. So we met in Madrid instead. King Juan Carlos and the Spanish government were happy to welcome us. Back then, the concrete idea of founding this center had not emerged yet. The decision to found the center was made roughly two-and-a-half years ago in Vienna. What were the Saudis’ intentions in founding this center?

Rabbi David Rosen: To be honest, their prime interest was probably focused more on Christian churches and especially the Catholic Church, rather than on us Jews. To be consistent though, they had to include a Jewish representative, too. They ended up choosing me even though that was probably not an easy choice for the Saudis given that I am an Israeli. I know that they have been criticized for choosing me. Why didn’t the Saudis just choose a US-American Jewish representative then to spare them the criticism?

Rabbi David Rosen: They could have done that, too. I don’t want to brag, but I think there were just a lot of people who recommended me. In the end, all the positive aspects outweighed their fear of criticism. But there may be strategic reasons, too; after all, now they can basically say, “Look, this is a legitimate and respectable project; even though we can’t stand the country Mr. Rosen is from, we still chose him. That’s proof that we have an honest interest in improving our relationship.” Have you experienced criticism within the Jewish community, too?

Rabbi David Rosen: Yes, a lot actually. As early as four years ago when the first meeting in Madrid took place, some tried to convince my employer not to let me attend the meeting. I had entire newspapers against me. The critics said that I was just a figleaf for the Saudis, and that I was collaborating with the enemy. I can understand this kind of criticism and do not think it is entirely silly, but I consider it to be somewhat short-sighted. You are only hurting yourself when you refuse to work with somebody who is going in the right direction, even if your collaboration will include some problem areas. When more and more information about the plan was released it became clear that key Islamic figures would collaborate on this project, and my decision was clear. When did you choose Vienna as the center’s location and why?

Rabbi David Rosen: The decision to found the center’s headquarters in Vienna was made roughly 9 months ago. I would be interested to know why they didn’t decide on Madrid; after all, that was where the whole process started. Maybe it’s because Vienna is more centrally located. I don’t know. Some Austrians are speculating that economic interests were the reason why Austria offered to found the center on its soil.

Rabbi David Rosen: That sounds plausible. But the question remains why King Abdullah chose Vienna, considering that he already had excellent connections to King Juan Carlos and the Spanish government. Does it bother you that the interim director of the center is a Saudi-Arabian government representative?

Rabbi David Rosen: Should that turn out to be a long-term decision, it would actually be worrying. We will work out a founding document according to which the institute will be entirely independent and that it will be the board’s responsibility to guide and direct the center. Should the Saudis not comply with this provision in the founding treaty, I suppose that most of us would terminate their collaboration. Nevertheless, the center will be financed by the Saudi Arabian government.

Rabbi David Rosen: Yes, the institute’s building belongs to the Saudis and the center has been named after King Abdullah. However, that is something we are all in favor of, both the Christians and I, simply because it is definitely a positive development for Saudi Arabia to stand up for religious tolerance. And yes, there are many problematic aspects to be found in Saudi Arabia, especially for Jews. But the Saudis explained to us that the institute would help them change the anti-Jewish sentiment in their society. Now it is up to us to risk acting in good faith. We have to consider one thing: in the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia is not just any Islamic state, but the state that harbors the holiest Muslim shrine. Saudi Arabia is the bedrock state of Islam, so to speak. So if that state shows commitment to the process of religious freedom, we would be stupid not to encourage that development. How many members will be on the board?

Rabbi David Rosen: Three Muslims – two Sunnis, one Shiite – three Christians – a Catholic, an Anglican, and an Orthodox –, one Buddhist, one Hindu, and a Jew. As far as I know, the project will be a collaborative effort between Saudi Arabia, Austria, Spain, and the Vatican. What are the goals you will try to achieve on behalf of the Jewish community?

Rabbi David Rosen: For the Jewish communities it is of crucial importance to reduce biases and prejudices. We are the eternal minority and will always be the minority. Therefore, interreligious understanding is absolutely vital for us. How often will you travel to Vienna?

Rabbi David Rosen: Four times a year, as far as I know. We will set up study groups on different topics – science, medicine, society, conflict solving. Will women’s rights be one of the topics you will address?

Rabbi David Rosen: I very much hope so. We have discussed this and I haven’t seen any negative reactions. At least one woman will be on the board – the representative of the Buddhist community. Of course there are striking differences in opinion on this. But I think you could not be a credible institution of interreligious dialogue if you ignored women’s rights in particular and human rights in general.

Rabbi David Rosen is the Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Interreligious Affairs. He is a former Chief Rabbi from Ireland and currently serves as the interreligious advisor to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. He is supposed to join the Saudi-financed interreligious center in Vienna as the only Jewish representative. He lives in Jerusalem.

US Holocaust Archives to cooperate with Vienna Diocese

The Vienna Diocesan Archives will launch a joint project with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., to investigate the role of the controversial figure of Cardinal Theodor Innitzer.

Cooperation agreement to be signed in Vienna

The cooperation agreement will be signed on September 8 at a festivity in Vienna by the museum’s board of management and by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

The contents of the archives in Vienna on the so-called “Hilfsstelle für nichtarische Katholiken” (Counseling center for non-Arian Jews), which was set up by Innitzer in 1940, are to be digitalized in order to make them available to the US Holocaust Museum.

According to diocesan archivist Annemarie Fenzl, the goal of this project is to make the archives accessible to a wider community of researchers in order to provide them with the possibility of “analyzing Theodor Innitzer’s role more closely than before.”

Research in the interest of creating a “balanced picture”

According to Kathpress, between 1940 and 1945, the counseling center offered help to many of Vienna’s Catholics of Jewish origin, who had been entirely deprived of their legal rights. Later on, they also offered their services to people of different faiths who had Jewish ancestry.

Fenzl is convinced that this project will help create a “more balanced picture of Innitzer.” Innitzer himself strongly supported this counseling center, and thus helped many people.

Innitzer as Cardinal “Heil Hitler”

Fenzl said that for a long time, Innitzer (1932-1955) had only been known as the Cardinal who had written “Heil Hitler” in a letter. Once the work done by the counseling center became publicly known, however, many people experienced an aha moment. In the spring of 1938, Innitzer had signed an accompanying letter to a call issued by the Catholic Church to vote in favor of the “Anschluss” with the words “Heil Hitler.”

Fenzl said this project was not about “coming to Innitzer’s defense or exonerating him from his acts;” however, at the end of the day, this project will be an “act of justice for Cardinal Innitzer.”


The original article (in German) is available at:

Federal President Fischer to inaugurate the Vienna Maccabi Games in July

The Jewish Maccabi Games are one the largest sports events of the world. In July they will be held for the first time in Vienna – and in the German-speaking area. More than 2,000 participants from about 40 nations – among them 185 Austrians – will compete for medals in 19 disciplines from 5 to 13 July 2011. The event will be formally opened by Federal President Heinz Fischer.

Nightmares and Margarine

May 6, 2011

The following is an excerpt of an article published in the Austrian magazine die Presse:

Philip escaped the Nazis by fleeing to Palestine, Helene was working at a hunting lodge owned by Goering. However, that could not save her from being deported to Auschwitz, nor did he manage to escape the war. After the end of the war, Philip and Helene met in a bar in Brussels – and the love story of two Austrian Jews took its course.

“The post-war generation failed to promote Austria’s moral recovery after WWII.“

May 7th, 2011

Original article:

Last Saturday, the editor-in-chief of the Austrian news magazine profil, Christian Rainer, held a commemorative address on the anniversary of the liberation of the Ebensee concentration camp, which took place on May 6, 1945. The following is a translation of the original speech:

Jewish Museum

April 11, 2011

The arguments presented by the Jewish Museum’s management, saying that there was no way of dissembling the holograms without destroying them in the act, were false. This will be demonstrated by the glasser company Fischer & Stiassny later this week on the basis of a model, which was manufactured specifically for this purpose.

The company Fischer & Stiassny had manufactured and assembled the holograms in 1995, the destruction of which in January of 2011 sparked international indignation. Heinz Haring, the company owner and glass expert, announced that he would demonstrate on the basis of a specially manufactured imitation of the artefacts that the holograms could in fact have been properly dissembled. His company had offered to do this prior to the incident. However, a different glasser company got the job and destroyed all of the 21 holograms when trying to dissemble them.

Original article:

Jewish Museum proud to present new permanent exhibition

As part of its new permanent exhibition, the Museum Judenplatz is proud to present an animated virtual tour of Jewish life in the 14th century that answers many questions, ranging from the development of Jewish communities to the everyday routines of Jews in the Middle Ages. The virtual tour allows us to walk through a 14th century reconstruction of the city and showcases the Jewish festivals and customs of the time, making for a lively depiction of life in this medieval Jewish community.