Saturday, April 12, 2008

Auf Wiedersehen to Germany

It seemed fitting that I would be lighting Shabbat candles in a thriving liberal (Reform) synagogue the night before our departure. That says a lot about how Germany has changed.

We traveled by train to Hanover yesterday afternoon to worship in one of the 35 Reform synagogues in Germany. The mother of our young lawyer friend in Berlin was instrumental in starting this synagogue.

When they asked me to light the candles, I of course worried: What if I don't do it in their tradition? What if I forget the words? The tune?

It was fine. They recognized the end of my trope and joined in. What a warm feeling to be among Jews so far from home repeating a custom that was happening all over the world at sundown.

The Jews of this synagogue in Hanover, who come from 14 different countries, all have a story to tell. The only ones who were in Germany during the war had to be hidden. Some are actually converts who were attracted to the religion.

One man, was only 10 years old in 1944, told me he doesn't yet feel it's his privilege as a German to convert to Judaism. But he believes in his new-found religion.

It's definitely a good sign that Jews can worship freely and no longer feel the wrath of the government and their fellow citizens. This country has come a long way in making amends, but there can never truly be forgiveness for the sins of a past generation.

Baruch atah Adonai. Blessed are you our God.


Blogger Kristin said...

Sounds like a beautiful service filled with people with so many stories. It sounds like a great way to end your trip to Germany.

2:37 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I have really enjoyed coming along on your holiday - all of your posts and pictures have been wonderful. I don't know if I'll ever make it to germany (so many places, so little time [and money]) but seeing these towns and cities through your eyes and through your words add much to my understanding of the place and the people. thank you! and safe travels home.

11:47 AM  

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