Hamburg, Germany’s Jewish community appointed local Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky as the city’s new chief rabbi.

According to Bernard Effertz, chairman of the board of the Hamburg Jewish Community, the decision was unanimous.

Bistritzky, who arrived in Germany’s second-largest city eight years ago, is “very well liked,” says Effertz, adding that the rabbi had already been performing a number of rabbinic duties at the community’s central synagogue. “He’s well integrated into the Hamburg community, especially with the young people, and therefore is a natural choice.”

Based at the Hohe Weide Synagogue, the Hamburg Jewish Community serves a diverse population. Bistritzky attends the local Chabad synagogue on weekdays, but presides over services at Hohe Weide on the Sabbath and holidays.

Discussing his new position, Bistritzky says he plans to “continue all the activities that we did under Chabad, but to bring more life to the community” by attracting more people. “The board of the community liked what we did, so now there’s an opportunity to do more.”

For three years, Hamburg had no chief rabbi.

“Since this comes from the people, it shows the good work that Chabad does, and it should be a sign to other European Jewish communities that we could work well together,” adds Bistritzky. “Our goal is the same goal. We all want to help the local Jewish community.”

Bistritzky, who grew up in Israel, estimates that approximately 8,000 Jews reside in Hamburg, although close to 3,000 are counted as community members. Germany, including the city of Hamburg, has a substantial Israeli population, and “most are not [affiliated] members of the community.”

On a personal level, serving in Hamburg has “a double meaning” and inspires a great deal of emotion. Bistritzky’s grandfather, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Bistritsky, left his native Hamburg for New York in 1937. He and his Frankfurt-born wife have been living in Jerusalem for the past 15 years.

The elder Bistritzky says he is 100 percent behind his grandson: “We are proud that our grandchild reached such a position.”