Friday, April 6, 2007

Shabbat Ideas - April 6, 2007

As we afflict ourselves, it snows again in New York, and I am totally Jet Lagged, here are my Shabbat Thoughts for April 6, 2007.

Passover and welcoming the stranger

Take me out to the Ball Game, you Heeb Jew boy!
Best Passover Post Yet
All I can say is wow!
RANDOM Story found by Daily Alert

Before I started the sixth grade I went to Germany on a trip sponsored by the local government where my grandfather was born. This was a defining moment in my Jewish life. I was more than a little confused about what was going on while we visited Meppen, what could literally be called a cow town in northeastern Germany.

My family spent time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in France and then Germany. Kol Nidre was a beautiful service lead in German, Russian and Hebrew by a paraplegic polyglot rabbi. (More on this event in two weeks for Yom Hashoha.) The service, like the rest of my trip was hard to follow for a 12-year-old.

But this trip made me appreciate America in a way I never thought I could. I didn’t really understand that at the time but looking back it is clear that being a Jew and living in the United States was a thing I couldn’t take for granted. My family lived in Germany since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 15th century. They took for granted that they would be there for generations to come.

Now I am not one of those keep-a-bag-packed-cause-the-SS-are-coming types that will say we need to be afraid in our own homes. I just say we need to appreciate what we have and be wary of faint praise.

My mother went on this trip with a chip on her shoulder and let everyone know. And rightly so; her family used to run the town’s dry-goods store and then the same people who would smile and wave let the Nazis destroy generations of her history. I think it is fine that she told the Meppen town's folk there was little trust for those who were saying they were sorry for the mistakes of their family’s past.

More than a generation after my family was deported from the city, a group of very kind people are putting a few bricks down Meppen. They are placing commemorative bricks with the names of my great-grandparents in front of where the dry-goods store once stood. Nice but still, where is my family? They are dead. Because of their destruction I live, but that still doesn’t make me any more forgiving of the deeds of the past.

The Pax group who laid these bricks did so with the purest of intention and I am sure some of them know their grandparents and great grandparents donned SS uniforms to round up my grandparents and great grandparents. I have a chip on my shoulder as well but I do not hold this generation accountable for the sins of their ancestors.

Yet every day I hold them responsible for remembering the sins of their ancestors. If these bricks help them remember and force them to treat others in this town square with respect, then these bricks –as a symbol of what was destroyed rebuilt– will have been placed both with pure intention and fulfilled purpose.


Yael said...

POLJ - Is this the stolpersteine (stumble stones) project?

Liberal Jew said...

I suppose they are. I only know what was sent from Meppen. I dig your post and agree with it's sentiment.

I was going to be a bit more negitive but I went with a hopeful (perhaps progressive) outlook. ;-)

Good Shabbas!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the shoutout.