Article Library / 2016

2016 Annual Assessment

Until the 1981 communal elections, IKG leadership significantly differed from the greater Jewish population: While from the mid-1950s, the majority of members were from Central and Eastern Europe, all IKG leaders were Alt-Wiener. While religion played a major role in the lives of most community members, its political leadership was predominantly secular in attitude and behavior. While the Jews were involved with Austrian society and politicians to a minimum, the Bund Werktätiger Juden (Union of Working Jews, BWJ), IKG’s ruling fraction between 1952 and 1981,10 was closely associated with the Socialist Party of Austria (SPÖ).

The 1981 IKG elections were the turning point in Vienna’s Jewish leadership. They marked the end of the era of undisputed loyalty of the community board and leadership to their ideological counterparts in the Austrian party spectrum, and the first time that a non-Alt-Wiener (Ivan Hacker) became IKG president and that members of the post-Shoah generation joined the IKG leadership (Ariel Muzicant was elected vice-president). It also brought a change into the IKG’s religious attitude, as more observant Jews were elected into its leadership. Subsequent elections continued reflecting the community’s demographic developments. Thus, the 1985 elections marked the entry of Sephardi Jews into the leadership. The 1998 elections marked the first time that someone born after 1945 (Muzicant) became president. In the 2007 elections, the Sephardic-Bukhara party placed second, and a party founded by second-generation post-Shoah activists entered IKG politics. In the 2012 elections, Oskar Deutsch became the first IKG president born in post-Shoah Vienna, and, as an observant Jew, he is the first postwar president to always wear a kippa when representing the Jewish community. The Sephardic-Bukhara party came in second again, but this time with only one mandate less than the leading party (Atid). In all, the Sephardic lists significantly gained in strength, and, for the first time in IKG history, two Sephardic Jews, one Bukharan and one Georgian, were elected vice-presidents.

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