Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jewish Life in Germany

I received this email note from a friend who is doing some guest lectures in Hamberg Germany. He is a regular shul goer and Israeli.

It paints a sad picture.

"I went to shul today in Hamburg, and of course, am traumatized from the way European Jews live as a community today. Traffic is prohibited next to the shul, and there is a permanent police structure next to it; and of course if is fenced and guarded. (at least they let me in w/o showing the passport -- as I was required in Hong Kong) And it occurred to me that near the pre-WW-II shul that I 'discovered' -- that serves now as the offices of the Hamburg Jewish Community --- there is also a permanent police structure. ... Until today I wanted to believe this was a coincidence.

Shul was realtively small -- but full -- many aging people, a few young; languages I mainly heard were Russian and German; very little Hebrew, mostly from shlichei chabad; I suspect the Rabbi was one of them. Very little English. Very few sephardim. Orthodox service, of course; no announcement of pages etc. Kiddush was wine and white cake. Nobody approached me and I did not connect to anyone. I suspect they are all in business-- no academics; but I would not know.

The chumash I held was Hebrew-Russian, while the siddur was Hebrew-German. The Rabbi did everything other than Haftara: he davened, leynd, and gave the Dvar Tora, in German of course.

The guy sitting behind me kept constantly correcting the Rabbi while he was leyning; he was an Israeli.; he did not strike me as masbir panim however, so we never spoke.

OK; an anthropological experience."

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