In the sexism affair at the Abraham Geiger College about Rector Walter Homolka, there were further personal consequences. Now the executive director of the School of Jewish Theology, Daniel Krochmalnik, has announced his resignation. Corresponding information from this newspaper was confirmed by a spokeswoman for the University of Potsdam on Monday.
Krochmalnik has been in office since October 2020. “He justifies his decision by saying that the current crisis requires a new start in terms of personnel in the interests of the school,” said the spokeswoman. “Presence and strength are required here, and as a professor emeritus he can no longer fully guarantee both.”
The school is an institute at the University of Potsdam where rabbis are trained. Depending on their orientation – liberal or conservative – the prospective rabbis deepen their education at the Geiger College or at the Zacharias Frankel College, both of which are so-called affiliated institutes.
Allegations had been raised against Krochmalnik that he should have ironed out criticism when clarifying the sexism affair. The allegations were “handled carefully according to the regulations provided for this” at the Geiger College, he is said to have written in an e-mail and accused critics of having caused damage to the School of Jewish Theology.
After a lawyer and former student gave information about the affair in a letter to the Brandenburg Ministry of Science in January, he is said to have written – as the “Spiegel” reports – that volunteer postmen are not needed for the state government.
Homolka himself, who is considered the best-known and most influential man of liberal Judaism in Germany, had already declared a week and a half after the affair became known that he was resigning from his posts – including as deputy director of the school.
The “world” had made the allegations against Homolka and his husband Hartmut Bomhoff public. Bomhoff is said to have sent students photos of his erect penis. When a subsequent commission of inquiry was formed, Homolka declared himself biased. Nevertheless, only people from his environment got into the commission.
In the end, Bomhoff was dismissed from university service. Critics accuse Homolka of having set up a system in which he is in control and in which only one thing should count: loyalty instead of expertise.
The university itself set up a commission of inquiry in the spring. In the meantime, the question is whether sexual harassment was part of everyday life at the Potsdam training center for rabbis and cantors. The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, wants to commission an external law firm to have the events in Potsdam investigated. In any case, the allegations have caused shocks in the Jewish world in Germany.