Seconds often make the difference between life and death and new technology makes the difference…
One week after the 75th commemoration of Kristallnacht in November, my daughter landed in Berlin. In Israel this year for seminary, she and another girl were chosen by a rav in their school to accompany him to Berlin on a kiruv mission.
When my daughter first called me to request permission to go, I was struck by the irony of the suggestion. Kiruv in Berlin. Almost an oxymoron. For someone like me who has sworn never to step foot in Germany, granting her permission wasn’t easy. But in the end I relented. How can I tell my daughter not to do kiruv?
So off she went to the city of Kristallnacht and the cradle of Nazism to introduce the beauty of Judaism to the uninformed. Those uninformed make up approximately 120,000 members of Germany’s Jewish community, mostly Russian Jews who flocked to Germany after the fall of the USSR in 1989 in response to generous government incentives. Like the Jews of Russia who were completely detached from Judaism living under communist rule, these Jews are true examples of a “tinok shenishba.”
My daughter’s experience, though brief, was profound. She encountered mainly students, including a dozen girls studying in the new midrashah in Berlin. Though most were Russian-speaking German Jews, some were non-German Jewish students studying in local universities who were attracted by the kiruv programs. Most were eager to learn about Judaism and sincere in their motivation.
Proud as I am of my daughter’s enthusiasm and her proclivity for outreach, I somehow can’t shake a niggling regret that it had to be in Germany. As the daughter of a Hungarian mother who escaped deportation by running with her family from the Nazis and the daughter-in-law of a Dutch Jewish man whose parents were shot by the Nazis and who was liberated from Bergen Belsen at the age of 12, I am one generation closer to the Holocaust than my daughter. And one degree closer to the idea of shunning anything and everything German.
Many of my friends are children of Holocaust survivors. We grew up with the uncontested notion that buying German products was taboo and visiting Germany unthinkable. Though many countries were complicit with the Nazis during World War II, and many other nations over the centuries perpetrated vicious anti-Semitic acts against Jews, the sheer magnitude and horror of the Holocaust places Germany in a league of its own.
Indeed, there is an established Brisk shitah that categorizes the Germans as Amalekites. In Fate and Destiny, Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik refers to Nazis as Amalekites, citing his father Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik’s interpretation of Amalek as “any people or group that, filled with maniacal hatred, directs its enmity against” the Jewish people.
Though this is approach is not halacha, the Rav is known to have applied to Nazi Germany the precept that one may not derive material benefit from the products of Amalek. He even told Ben-Gurion after World War II that he was not permitted to accept reparation funds from Germany.
One may view today’s Germans as more conciliatory and apologetic toward Jews and think it unfair to hold them accountable for their fathers’ sins. However, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Germany. Though the most aggressive form of anti-Semitism can be attributed to the Muslim population there, both the far right and the far left of the political spectrum are plagued with nuanced anti-Semitism, much of it cloaked in anti-Israel sentiment.
Kiruv notwithstanding, is a country notorious for its systematic murder of Jews the proper site for rebuilding Jewish communities? Shouldn’t more be done to encourage Russian Jews in Germany who are interested in Yiddishkeit to emigrate to Israel rather than settle in a land drenched in Jewish blood?
About the Author: Sara Lehmann, a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, was formerly an editor at a major New York publishing house.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The Jewish vote won’t impact polls as much as it will the coffers of candidates and their Super PACs
Iran stands unopposed by the “international community” and is racing to assert regional dominance.
If some Israeli cops got a Jewish education & learned to love Jews, Israel would be a better place
The Ravens’ Ray Lewis screamed that violence is never the answer.” Unfortunately, he is wrong.
Obama is the latest incarnation of our ancient enemies who arise every generation with a new face
Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
Jewish settlement of the land and the resulting employment opportunities drew the Arabs to Palestine
Mon. May 11, 2015@5 PM, history’s largest Shofar blowing will occur outside the UJA-Fed. Building
One look at the breakdown of competing parties in the Israeli elections lends credibility to the old joke of two Jews and three shuls.
In his September speech to the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed to that fox when he compared Iran to the Nazis.
It is hard to believe that only one hundred years ago religion played such a central and accepted role in the personal and governmental lives of American citizens that its invocation was standard.
We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.
What’s important is to make the case for Israel more forcefully and to give it the articulation that the next presidential candidates ought to have.
From Obamacare to Common Core to gay marriage, radical agendas are pushed through the legal system.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/kiruv-in-berlin/2014/01/08/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: