A new Jewish community outreach group in Germany is raising eyebrows for the name of its new educational program, "Rent-a-Jew." Though the name is seemingly counterintuitive, European Janucz Korczak Academy group spokesperson Mascha Schmerling said that their new "Rent-a-Jew" program intends to combat rising anti-Semitism and that the title was chosen to be intentionally provocative and start conversation.
"We want to give people the chance to talk to the Jewish community," Schmerling said. "We want them to see that we're completely normal people. We don't want to be defined purely by history and we don't want to always be seen through this Holocaust lens."
At the Rent-a-Jew website, organizations such as German schools and universities can sign up to send a local Jewish person to their campus to talk about their lives and to counter myths about Jewish people.
According to Deutsche Welle news network, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the country, with a 34 percent increase in anti-Jewish incidents in 2015. But the Korczak Academy wants to change that.
The Telegraph reported that Rent-a-Jew's website states that it wants to use a little humor to show Germany that Jewish stereotypes are just that — stereotypes.
The website says, "For hundreds of years, anti-Semites have claimed that Jews are less valuable than other people. We are tired of hearing such assignments. And we believe that humor mixed with a bit of chutzpah is the best way to refute old stereotypes and prejudices and show how absurd they are."
"There are 100,000 Jews in Germany, but few [Germans] know a Jew personally. We want to change this by allowing encounters between Jews and non-Jews — away from stereotypes," it reads.
Explaining that the people involved are not trained professionals, Rent-a-Jew says, "Jewish participants are as colorful as Judaism. They are not professional speakers or experts for politics and religion, but people from next door with their own personal stories and opinions."
"With Rent-a-Jew, it becomes possible to each other instead of talking over one another to answer questions on both sides and break down prejudices," the site says.