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Leaving This Place

Getting ready to leave Berlin and having very mixed feelings. Something magical took place here this weekend, and none of us are left unchanged or unimpressed. This festival has left its mark on each of its participants; it has given us memories we will not soon forget.

In Berlin, Jewish life is beautiful. The synagogues are beautiful. The architecture is beautiful. The davening, emanating from the cathedral-like synagogues, is beautiful. The stained glass is beautiful. The Jews walking in the streets are beautiful. And don’t think for a second that the experience of being able to walk to shul in our Shabbat best, wearing kippot, looking like Jews, in the streets of Berlin, did not add to our goosebumps that chilly morning.

Yes, friends, there are Jews in Germany. Jews, mostly ex-patriots from Soviet countries and from Israel these days, live freely here as Jews. They practice freely here. They are constantly reminded of the historical mortality their Judaism has wreaked on this community, and yet they do not question their status as Jews. They learn from their rebbe, they sing songs, they keep kosher, they daven. They wear modern styles. They live in Berlin. They speak German and Yiddish and Russian and Hebrew. Judaism is alive and growing here.

In Germany, Jewish life is beautiful. The fact that we can say that today without the irony loaded in its original source, is beautiful.

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  1. Steven Fenster
    December 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

    My sentiments exactly. My life has been changed forever from this experience!

  2. December 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Steven – which choir did you sing with?

  3. Steven Fenster
    December 26, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Hi Hinda,
    Sorry it took me a while to respond to you – I have just been away with my family.
    I was the soloist with the Toronto Jewish Male Choir (Seu Shearim).

  4. December 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Wow, great performance! Nice to know this blog reaches all the way to Canada!

  5. Steven Fenster
    December 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thank you very much.
    I have to say that you have an incredible way with words, and you are so on the money in the way you have described everything. I have forwarded your blog to my parents, who too, are incredibly moved and touched by your writing, and although they weren’t there, have gotten a sense of what it meant to have been there.
    Thanks!

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