Kosher cuisine for all

Kosher cuisine for all

It is a unique project: Three women – a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim – want to build a three-religion daycare center in Berlin. The idea that emerged four years ago could soon become reality.

Daring to ask each other questions – for Iman Andrea Reimann, this is one of the most important reasons for supporting the project. The Muslim woman, who converted to Islam more than 25 years ago, is one of the initiators of the planned "three-religion daycare center" in Berlin.

She knows from her own experience what it's like when you first get to know a religion from the outside. As chairwoman of the German Muslim Center Berlin, she coordinates the Muslim sponsor side of the project and currently heads a Muslim daycare center in the capital city.

Shortly before a contract is signed

Four years ago, the idea of bringing Jewish, Christian and Muslim children together under one roof in a daycare center – originally "the dream" of Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, as Reimann reports – was born. Ederberg, who is responsible for the synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin-Mitte, has – like Reimann – an eventful history with regard to religion: she was a Protestant and converted to Judaism almost 30 years ago. The educational association "Masorti", founded by her, supports the planned institution from the Jewish side.

Both women developed the idea further and brought Kathrin Janert, a member of the board of directors of the Protestant Church District Association for Daycare Facilities in Berlin Mitte-Nord, on board as the third member of the group. A place was looked for, found in Berlin-Moabit – and discarded again.

Meanwhile, the plans are more concrete, as Reimann recounts. It is now certain that the daycare center can be built on the grounds of a Protestant parish in Berlin-Friedrichshain, and a contract is about to be signed. When everything is finalized, the name of the parish will also be published, ares Reimann.

In any case, the priest in charge says he finds the whole thing "innovative and challenging". Expected start of construction on the site: January 2021.

Strong approval from religious commissioner

A project that also meets with the approval of the Federal Government Commissioner for Religious Freedom, Markus Grubel (CDU).

"I can hardly imagine anything better for preventing prejudice," says the Catholic, who learned about the planning status firsthand. Together, the children of this daycare center should learn about other religions and their holidays and rites, but still remain "at home in their religion". Grubel says: "Hopefully it will inspire imitation."

The whole thing is expected to cost up to five million euros, and the three sponsors will have to pay ten percent of the costs themselves. They are trying to raise funds through donations and their associations. The rest is to be financed through the daycare expansion program of the state of Berlin, according to the plan. The planned building will have four floors, one for each of the daycare centers of the three religious communities, which, quite fairly, will each offer 35 places – "dialogue at eye level," says Protestant Janert.

In the fourth, there is to be space for "rooms for encounters". The three daycare centers will also share the outdoor area and the kitchen. "So that everyone can eat, the food is kosher," says Reimann. It is also clear that the house, like all Jewish institutions, must be specially secured because of the danger of attacks.

Mutual invitation to the festivals

Whether Yom Kippur, St. Martin's Day or the Feast of the Sacrifice: In the daycare center, the children are to invite each other to their celebrations and explain them to those of other faiths. The fact that "we speak many languages – and also speak to God in different languages and traditions" cannot be taught to children early enough, says Rabbi Ederberg, herself a mother of three. "Growing up together is possible and necessary in our colorful city."

The daycare center should also be colorful, emphasizes Muslim Reimann, open to all types of families, including same-sex parents and non-religious families. "But we ame that it is more of an offer for families who are at home in their religion, but want to experience religious diversity," says Protestant Janert.

In other words, not necessarily for people who are mainly interested in a place at a daycare center close to home, but for those who are also prepared to accept a longer journey. The women do not believe that they will have problems filling the nursery: applications for places are already coming in.

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