For his services to Jewish life in Lower Saxony, the chairman of the state association, Michael Fürst, received the state’s Grand Cross of Merit in Hanover on Friday. Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) honored him at a reception of the Jewish state association as an “outstanding representative of Judaism in Lower Saxony”. With the reception in the congress center, Fürst celebrated his 75th birthday.
The lawyer has been at the head of the state association of Jewish communities in Lower Saxony for 42 years, which now has more than 6,000 members in twelve communities. In 1980 he took over the presidency.
With his many years of work, Fürst laid important foundations for Judaism in the country to be able to grow again after the Holocaust and continue to grow, above all through the influx of numerous Jews from the former Soviet Union, Weil said in front of around 300 guests from politics, society and Church.
“If we compare that with the situation three quarters of a century ago, one can really call it a miracle that a country in which the complete annihilation of Judaism was a state program and state practice has become home again for Jews,” emphasized the Prime Minister. In addition, Fürst built important bridges to the Muslims in the country and to the Palestinian community and fearlessly opposed any form of racism.
Michael Fürst was born in Hanover on May 28, 1947 as the son of a Holocaust survivor and grew up in the war-torn city. His father decided against emigrating. In 1968, Fürst became the first Jewish reserve officer in the Bundeswehr.
He then studied law in Göttingen and was admitted to the bar in 1976. In 1982 he was involved in founding the German Technion Society, which has ties to the Israel Technical University in Haifa.
In 2007, Fürst also took over the presidency of the Jewish community in Hanover, the largest Jewish community in Lower Saxony with around 4,000 members. Because of his commitment to the university in Haifa, he was appointed honorary senator of Leibniz University Hanover in 2021.