A Trip I Had to Make

Thomaskirche photo

Speaking at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig on Kristallnacht

Fall, 1968

I first found out what happened on this night in 1938 when I began my graduate studies to become a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. At the opening convocation the then dean and later President of the College, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, of blessed memory, told of how as an eight-year old child in the town of Oberwesel, he watched his grandfather wade into the river Rhine to save charred scraps of Torah scrolls thrown by the Nazis from his burning synagogue.

Summer, 1982

As my train pulled into Leipzig’s huge station, I realized that my first glimpse of the city was probably my father’s last as he traveled on a different kind of train to Dachau after his arrest on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938.

I picked up a detailed city map at the information center to try to find the street and apartment where my father had grown up. I also sought the location of the city zoo.

The Zoo

Why the zoo? The eyewitness report on Kristallnacht by David H. Buffum, American consul in Leipzig, reveals: “Jewish dwellings were smashed into, and the contents looted… An eighteen year-old boy was hurled from a three-story window to land with both legs broken … Three synagogues were fired simultaneously by incendiary bombs, and many Jews were rounded up and thrown into the stream that flows through the city zoo. SS men commanded horrified spectators to spit, jeer, and defile them with mud.”

When I arrived at the entrance to the zoo, it was 6:45 p.m. The gatekeeper said I was too late. “The zoo closes at seven.”

“It is all right,” I answered, as I handed over the entrance fee. “I only need to go in for a few minutes.” The gatekeeper protested, but I persisted until she finally let me pass.

In a few minutes I was standing before the stream. Tears came to my eyes as I heard myself asking out loud, “Is this where they took you, Papa? Did those bastards spit on you… Did they throw mud on you?” Then, as if in retaliation, I spit into the water from a bridge that straddles the stream.

67 Jews in Leipzig **

The next morning I found the office of the Leipzig Jewish community. The elderly lady who answered the door explained that the head of the community was out but would be back later. I explained to her that my father grew up in Leipzig. She pulled down a dusty ledger and opened it to the F’s. I quickly found the family listing.

While we were talking, the leader of the community walked in. I explained who I was and why I was there.   He was warm, friendly, and clearly pleased that I had come.

I asked him, “How many Jews live in Leipzig?”

“67”, he answered.

“And how many lived here,” I continued, “when the Jewish population was at its peak?”

“In 1935,” he responded, “18,000 Jews lived in Leipzig.”

“How many perished during the Holocaust?” I asked.

“14,000,” he replied.

The twelve-hour train ride to Amsterdam gave me plenty of time to digest my experiences in Leipzig. I thought, of course, of my father. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis took him to Dachau where they shaved his head, interrogated him, and abused him.

But Leo Fuchs was one of the lucky ones. Because he had relatives already in the United States, and because his visas were complete and in order, the American consulate secured his release after only a few days.

He never spoke of any of this to me, but I know the trauma’s effect never left him. In the spring of 1969 my father fell gravely ill. I flew home to New Jersey from my rabbinical studies in Los Angeles to be with him. I shall never forget my feelings of helplessness when I entered the hospital room, and my father in a semi-comatose state did not recognize me.

I stood there and shuddered as he began shouting in German — which he never spoke at home — that the guards should stop beating him! He had repressed those memories for more than 30 years.

And they were—by and large—good years! In this country my father found love and raised a family. But I –perhaps irrationally—blame the Nazis for shortening his life and depriving me of sharing my greatest joys with him: My ordination as a rabbi, my marriage to Vickie, and our children and our grandchildren.

Our children! They are our people’s answer to Hitler’s madness. For us Jews each new life represents a young sapling planted not only to bring joy to a family but also to revitalize a once verdant forest ravaged by fire, by smoke, and by gas.

The word, “Genocide,” which we throw around so loosely today, came into our vocabulary so that we could attempt to define what Hitler tried to do: to extirpate the gene pool of our people.

And so we command ourselves: זכור  (Zachor)  Remember! But if we only remember to wallow in our sorrow, then we waste our time and our tears. We must remember what was so that we can make what will be better.

How could God allow the Holocaust?

People ask me all the time, “How could God allow the Holocaust?” I answer that God gave human beings free will and placed us in charge of and responsible for this world. Without free will life would have no meaning. We human beings would be mere puppets on a string or actors following a script from which we could not deviate.

God yearns for us to create a world of justice and compassion, but God does not do it for us. When we fail, it is our failure, not God’s. When we fail, I believe God weeps with us and for us.

A Miraculous Vision

As I walked away from the stream that flows through the Leipzig zoo, I wandered past a den of timber wolves in a natural enclosure and beheld a truly wondrous site. A mother wolf stood stark still, while two suckling cubs nursed blissfully at her breasts.

At first, I thought it so incongruous to see such an exquisite glimpse of nature’s harmony in a place that represented to me only discord and destruction. Yet, that is the image that lingered in my mind during the long train ride back to Amsterdam. My mind’s eye kept returning from the vision of violence, hatred, and pain to the peaceful, pastoral scene of wolf cubs drawing sustenance and strength from their mother.

The Leipzig zoo will always represent for me the horrible evil of which humanity is capable. The wolves, though, will always represent harmony God wants us to create in this world.

On Yom Kippur we read in our synagogue one of the Torah’s most important texts: “See I have set before you life and goodness, death and evil.” (Dt. 30:15). The choice is ours, but God exhorts us: “Choose life that you and your offspring may live (Dt. 30:19).

No, the question is not where was God during the Holocaust. The question is, “Where was humanity?”

We cannot change the past, but the future is ours to shape.

We know too well that we can choose death, but God hopes our past will strengthen us as we face the future.

Yes, we can choose death, but God hopes:

That the pain we relive this night will give us the courage

To clothe the naked,

Feed the hungry,

Teach the unlettered,

Foster understanding among all people,

And use the vast talents—with which God has blessed us—

To choose life, and

To forge a world of justice, caring, compassion and peace!

 

 

 

**Today, because of immigration from the Former Soviet Union, some 1300 Jews live in Leipzig.

 

A Ray of Light that Pierced the Darkness

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Memorial at the site of the Great Synagogue of Kiel, Germany, that was destroyed on Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. I will speak at the Kiel Kristallnacht commemorative, sponsored by The Organization for Christians and Jews Working Together, the evening of November 9, 2016

Tomorrow, is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, known to Germans as Pogromnacht, the nationwide pogrom perpetrated by the Nazis against Germany’s Jews on November 9-10, 1938. Historians consider this event the formal beginning of the Holocaust.

As we commemorate this somber anniversary, I want to share an act of heroism by a German citizen, a ray of light that momentarily pierced the darkness of Nazi terror.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner recounts:

A Jewish woman was riding home from work on a city bus when storm troopers boarded the coach to examine the identification papers of the passengers. The SS men ordered all of those with Jewish papers to leave the bus and get on a big truck waiting nearby.

As the soldiers made their way through the bus, a Jewish woman began to sob softly. When the Gentile man next to her asked her what was wrong, she answered that she was Jewish and the soldiers would surely take her.

All of a sudden, the man shouted at her, “You stupid wretch! I can’t stand being near you!” The SS men asked the man what all the shouting was about.

He pointed to the woman and sneered, “My dumb wife has forgotten her papers again. She does this all the time. I’m fed up with her.”

The SS men laughed, shook their heads, and moved on.

The woman never learned the name of the German stranger who had saved her life.

 

Return to Friedrichsstadt

With great excitement, we return to the northern German city of Friedrichsstadt. Last year I had the privilege of conducting the first Jewish service in that city since 1938, a fact verified by the head of the Jewish Cultural Center there, Frau Christiane Thomsen and several others.

Since then, to my joy there have been several Jewish cultural events in that city including the Bat Mitzvah ceremony of Laura Wendt a young woman from Denmark, in a service led by my colleague, Rabiner Dr. Walter Rothschild.

Much credit for the “heavy lifting” in Friedrichsstadt as far as replanting Jewish life goes belongs to Horst (Ephraim) and Rita (Devorah) Blunk.

I had the privilege of making their acquaintance for the first time in 2014 during adult education sessions and services that I conducted with Walter Joshua Pannbacker in Kiel, a full hour away from their home. The desire of Horst and Rita–and the activity that inspires that desire–to revitalize Jewish life in their home region inspire me.

Without question the experience last year of conducting the first Jewish service there since Kristallnacht was a great thrill. It was even more gratifying to lead prayer in the Friedrichsstadt synagogue because it had been commandeered and turned into a headquarters for Nazi officers after November 9, 1938.

The experience reminded me of a recollection shared in a talk to us students by the then Dean of the California branch of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion by the late Rabbi Dr. Alfred Gottschalk (who went on to become President of the entire four-campus College-Institute). Gottschalk recalled a trip he took to Rome and his feeling as he stood beneath the famous Arch of Titus. In the arch is an inscription from the year 70 C.E., “Judaea capta.” Judaea is captured, and by implication, Judaism is no more. Gottschalk related how he looked up with pride at that inscription, and proclaimed, “Here I am Titus! Where are you and your empire now?”

During our worship in Friedrichsstadt last year, I remembered Gottschalk’s words, and I said to myself, “Here we are, Hitler. Where are you and your empire now?”

Because of all the Jewish cultural activity that takes place in Friedrichsstadt now, this year’s service will not have the same novel, first time since Kristallnacht feeling that last year’s did.

But that is a good thing!

My goal is not to be the first in a generation to represent Jewish life in different places in Germany. My goal is for Progressive Jewish life to become a regular, vibrant and contributing part of German culture once again. My second opportunity to lead worship in Friedrichsstadt feels like a small but meaningful step toward that precious goal.

German of Thomaskirche Kristallnacht Speech: A Trip I had to Make

Eine unumgängliche Reise
Rabbiner Stephen Fuchs

Ich wusste nicht, was in dieser Nacht 1938 passiert war, bis ich im Alter von 22 Jahren mein Graduiertenstudium am Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles begann, um Rabbiner zu werden. Bei der Semestereröffnung berichtete der Dekan und spätere Präsident des Kollegs, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, wie er als achtjähriges Kind in der kleinen Stadt Oberwesel seinen Großvater in den Rhein waten sah, um verkohlte Fetzen der Tora-Rolle zu retten, die Nazis aus der brennenden Synagoge geworfen hatte.

Als ich Rabbiner Gottschalks Kindheitsbericht von der Kristallnacht hörte, wusste ich noch nicht, dass mein eigener Vater hier in Leipzig genau in der Nacht verhaftet wurde. Als ich das erfuhr, beschloss ich, diesen Ort eines Tages aufzusuchen. Die Möglichkeit eröffnete sich im Sommer 1982.

Als mein Zug in Leipzig’s riesigen Bahnhof einrollte, wurde mir bewusst, dass mein erster Blick auf die Stadt der letzte meines Vaters gewesen sein könnte, als er in einem ganz anderen Zug als Häftling nach Dachau fuhr.

Mit einem genauen Stadtplan von der Tourist Information versuchte ich Straße und Wohnung zu finden, wo mein Vater aufwuchs. Auch den Zoo suchte ich. Warum den Zoo? Der Augenzeuge der Kristallnacht David H. Buffum, damals amerikanischer Konsul in Leipzig, berichtet: ” Jüdische Wohnungen wurden gestürmt und geplündert… Ein achtzehnjähriger Junge wurde vom dritten Stock aus dem Fenster geschmissen. Er brach sich beide Beine… Drei Synagogen gleichzeitig wurden mit Brandbomben beworfen und viele Juden wurden im Zoo zusammengetrieben und dort in den Bach gestoßen. SS-Männer befahlen den schockierten Zuschauern sie zu bespucken, zu verspotten und mit Schlamm zu bewerfen.“

Als ich am Eingang zum Zoo ankam, war es viertel vor sieben. Die Ticketverkäuferin sagte, ich wäre zu spät: „Der Zoo schließt um sieben.“ „Das ist in Ordnung“, antwortete ich und reichte das Eintrittsgeld hinüber, „ich brauche nur ein paar Minuten.“
Sie protestierte, doch ich blieb hartnäckig, bis sie mich schließlich passieren ließ. Nach wenigen Minuten stand ich an dem Bach. Tränen stiegen mir in die Augen und ich hörte mich selbst laut sagen: „Ist dies der Ort? Haben sie dich hier hergebracht haben, Papa? Haben diese Bastarde dich bespuckt… haben sie dich mit Dreck beworfen?“ Dann, wie als Vergeltung, spuckte ich von einer Brücke aus in den Bach.
Am nächsten Morgen fand ich das Büro der Jüdischen Gemeinde Leipzig. Eine ältere Dame öffnete die Tür und erklärte mir, dass der Gemeindeleiter nicht da sei, aber bald wiederkommen würde. Ich erzählte ihr, dass mein Vater in Leipzig aufgewachsen sei. Sie zog ein staubiges Familienregister aus dem Regal und öffnete es bei „f“. Sehr schnell fand ich die Eintragungen über meine Familie. Währenddessen kam der Gemeindeleiter herein. Ich sagte ihm wer ich sei und was ich wollte. Er war herzlich, freundlich und offensichtlich erfreut, dass ich da war.
Ich fragte ihn: „Wie viele Juden gibt es in Leipzig?“ „67“, antwortete er. „Und wann gab es hier die größte Zahl jüdischer Einwohner?“ „1935“ , antwortete er, „18000 Juden lebten damals in Leipzig.“ „Und wie viele sind im Holocaust umgekommen?“ fragte ich. „14000“, antwortete er.

Die zwölfstündige Bahnfahrt nach Amsterdam gab mir reichliche Zeit, meine Erfahrungen in Leipzig zu verdauen. Natürlich dachte ich an meinen Vater. Nach der Verhaftung in der Kristallnacht brachten die Nazis ihn nach Dachau, wo sie ihm den Kopf schoren, ihn verhörten und misshandelten.
Aber Leo Fuchs gehörte zu den glücklichen. Da er Verwandte in den USA hatte und sein Visum bereits genehmigt war, erwirkte das US-Konsulat nach wenigen Tagen seine Freilassung.
Er hat mit mir nie darüber gesprochen. Aber ich weiß, dass das Trauma ihn immer gequält hat. Im Frühjahr 1969 wurde mein Vater schwer krank. Ich flog von Los Angeles, aus meinem Rabbinatsstudium, nach Hause in New Jersey, um bei ihm zu sein. Ich werde nie das Gefühl der Hilflosigkeit vergessen, als ich das Krankenhauszimmer betrat und mein Vater mich im nur halb bewussten Zustand nicht erkannte.
Ich stand da und es schüttelte mich, als er anfing auf Deutsch – was er Zuhause nie gesprochen hatte – zu schreien. Ich fragte meinen Onkel: Was hat er gesagt? Mein Onkel antwortete: Er durchlebt die Erinnerungen an die Kristallnacht. Er schreit, die Wärter sollten aufhören ihn zu schlagen. Mein Vater hatte diese Erinnerung über dreißig Jahre unterdrückt.
Im Großen und Ganzen waren das gute Jahre gewesen. In den USA hatte er seine große Liebe gefunden und eine Familie gegründet. Ich aber – und das mag irrational sein – beschuldige die Nazis sein Leben verkürzt und mir geraubt zu haben, meine größten Freuden mit ihm zu teilen: meine Ordination zum Rabbiner, meine Heirat mit Vickie, unsere Kinder und Enkel.
Mein Vater wurde 57 Jahre alt. Seine älteren Brüder, die Deutschland vor der Kristallnacht verlassen hatten, aber lebten gesund bis in ihre achtziger Jahre hinein.
Unsere Kinder! Sie sind die Antwort unseres Volkes auf Hitlers Wahnsinn. Für uns Juden ist jedes neue Leben wie ein junger Baum – gepflanzt nicht nur zur Freude seiner Familie, sondern auch um einen einst üppigen Wald neu zu beleben, der von Feuer, Rauch und Gas verwüstet wurde.

In Europa sind von drei Juden zwei umgekommen.. In Leipzig von neun Juden, sieben.
Wir lernten den Begriff “Genozid”, mit dem wir zu definieren versuchen, was Hitlers Absicht war: Den Genpool unseres Volkes ausrotten.
Deshalb befehlen wir uns selbst: Zachor! Erinnere! Aber wenn wir uns nur erinnern, um im eigenen Leid zu baden. verschwenden wir unsere Zeit und unsere Tränen. Wir müssen uns daran erinnern, was war, damit wir schaffen können, was besser ist.

Die Leute fragen mich beständig: “Wie konnte Gott den Holocaust zulassen?” Ich antworte, dass Gott den Menschen einen freien Willen gab und uns Auftrag und Verantwortung für die Welt übertrug. Ohne freien Willen hätte das Leben keinen Sinn. Wir Menschen wären nichts als Marionetten oder Schauspieler, die nicht vom Drehbuch abweichen könnten.
Gott sehnt sich danach, dass wir eine Welt der Gerechtigkeit und des Mitgefühls schaffen. Aber Gott tut es nicht für uns. Wenn wir versagen ist es unser Versagen, nicht Gottes. Ich glaube, Gott weint mit uns und um uns, wenn wir versagen.

Ich wandte mich von dem Bach, der durch den Leipziger Zoo fließt, ab und kam an einem Bau mit Timberwölfen vorbei. Es war ein natürliches Gehege und wirklich ein schöner Anblick. Eine Wolfsmutter stand ganz still, während zwei Welpen glücklich an ihrer Brust nuckelten.
Zuerst fühlte es sich sehr unpassend an, solch einen wunderbaren Moment natürlicher Harmonie and einem Ort zu sehen, der für mich Unfrieden und Zerstörung repräsentiert. Doch auf der langen Bahnfahrt nach Amsterdam blieben meine Gedanken an diesem Bild hängen. Meine inneren Augen wanderten immer wieder vom Bild der Gewalt, des Hasses und des Leides zu der friedlichen, idyllischen Szene wie die Wolfswelpen aus ihrer Mutter Nahrung und Kraft saugten.
Welche Ironie! Ich weiß, dass Nazis und Neo Nazis den Wolf als Symbol verwenden. Das ist ein Missbrauch. Wölfe töten nicht aufgrund von Vorurteilen, Hass oder Ideologie. Sie töten um sich zu ernähren und sind damit Teil der natürlichen Balance. Wie bewegend, dass an dem Ort, wo ich meines Vaters schreckliche Erfahrung durchlebte, Wölfe mich getröstet haben als Zeichen, dass die Liebe und das Gute stärker sind als der Hass und das Böse.

Der Leipziger Zoo wird für mich für immer das schreckliche Böse repräsentieren, das Menschen zu tun im Stande sind. Die Wölfe aber werden immer Harmonie symbolisieren, die wir nach Gottes willen in dieser Welt schaffen sollen.

Am Morgen des Jom Kippur lesen wir Reform Juden einen der wichtigsten Texte der Tora (Dt.: 30,15): „Siehe, ich habe dir heute vorgelegt das Leben und das Gute, den Tod und das Böse.“ Wir haben die Wahl, aber Gott ermahnt uns: Wähle das Leben, damit du am Leben bleibst, du und deine Nachkommen (Dt 30.19)
Nein, die Frage ist nicht: Wo war Gott während des Holocaust? Die Frage ist: wo war die Menschlichkeit?
Wir können die Vergangenheit nicht ändern, aber wir können davon lernen. Wir wissen all zu gut, dass wir den Tod wählen können. Doch Gott hofft, dass unsere Vergangenheit uns für die Zukunft stärkt, dass wir durch den Schmerz, den wir heute erneut durchleben mutig werden:
Die Nackten zu kleiden,
Hungernden Essen zu geben,
Ungebildete zu lehren,
gegenseitiges Verständnis unter den Menschen zu fördern.
Und die großartigen Begabungen, mit denen Gott uns gesegnet hat, zu nutzen, um das Leben zu wählen, und eine Welt der Gerechtigkeit, der Fürsorge, des Mitgefühls und des Friedens zu schaffen. Dann verwirklichen wir die Welt, von der die Propheten träumten, indem sie sagten:
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all of My holy mountain for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the sea bed is covered by water
And all shall sit under their vines and under their fig trees and none shall make them afraid! (Isaiah 11:9, and Micah 4:4)”
Man wird nirgends Sünde tun noch freveln auf meinem ganzen heiligen Berge; denn das Land wird voll Erkenntnis des Herrn sein, wie Wasser das Meer bedeckt (Isaiah 11:9)
Ein jeder wird unter seinem Weinstock und Feigenbaum wohnen und niemand wird sie schrecken. (Micah 4:4)

Amen

Übersetzung Ursula Sieg, Oktober 2014

Learning from the Past and Facing the Future

Months ago, when I was invited to speak in Leipzig on Kristallnacht, the invitation filled me with joy. What could be more wonderful? The city where my father was arrested and sent to Dachau has invited me back as its guest to speak at the city’s three separate Kristallnacht commemorations. And yet the changes that have occurred since I accepted the invitation six months have tempered my joy with concern.

Anti-Semitism is rising sharply around the world. The aftermath of the Holocaust gave us a respite. Now, the world seems to be going back to business as usual. Questions about the legitimacy of the Jewish state—not this policy or that–-but her very right to exist as a Jewish nation don’t come just from radical Arab capitals. They come from England, France,Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia and even here in Germany now and then.

Anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish institutions hardly make the general news any more, but they are becoming more common. In Europe anti-Semitic violence is such a pervasive threat that if you wish to visit a synagogue, you had best have a reservation in advance or the locked and guarded building is likely to be off limits.

How should we respond to such existential concerns?

One Yom Kippur a congregation responded to the plea of Rabbi Meir of Apt to repent by bursting into tears. After enduring the sobbing for two hours, the rabbi addressed his congregation saying: “Jews, I don’t want you to turn to God with tears and sadness. I want you to turn to God with joy and hope.” (S. Y. Agnon, Days of Awe, page 210)

Yes, we live in troubled times. Israel is besieged from every corner of the world, and Anti-Semitism is sprouting anew even at times here in Germany where it is forbidden by law.

Are we to succumb to despair? No, as the Rabbi of Apt advised, our task is to find joy, wherever we can and do our very best to live up to God’s hopes for us, and trust that if we do, God will see us through the perils in our path as God promised Abraham so long ago.

This summer, Israel’s long period of quiet exploded into a horrible war. Certainly it was neither a lasting military nor a moral victory for Israel.

In the grief and of disappointment, over the loss of life both of Israelis and of innocent Palestinians we need perspective. I find it here in Germany. Despite occasional Anti-Semitic expressions I see daily reminders of where we Jews were just decades ago, and how far we have come.

Currently the Holstenschule in Neumünster has a beautiful exhibit based on the life of my wife’s 93-year old artist mother, Stefanie Steinberg. Her maiden name is Apt, and maybe the hope and joy with which she lives, despite what she endured, was taught to her forbears by the famous Rabbi Meir of Apt, whom I quote above.

The Neumünster exhibit allows students a wonderful opportunity to learn of her remarkable life journey from Breslau to Spain, to Switzerland to New York to Los Angeles and eventually to San Francisco where she still lives independently and recently gave a marvelous talk  to the San Francisco Women’s Artists in which she has been active for over half a century. The ingenious exhibit in Neumünster, designed by Lutheran Pastor Ursula Sieg educates students and members of the public who visit not just about the horrors of the Holocaust but about Jewish thought, history and practice as well.

Just last week I spoke at the University of Potsdam to open the semester of the School of Jewish Theology and to rabbinical students at the Abraham Geiger College in Berlin. Both of these institutions offer their tutelage to our future professionals in Europe at government expense.

Can this be Germany?

As Jews we have many roles to play in this world. We are not just a beleaguered country that became a State in 1948. We are not just congregations—in North America and around the world– concerned for our fiscal and programmatic futures. And we are certainly not just those whose past is tied to the destruction of European Jewry during World War II.

No, we are a people with a 4000 year-old Covenant with God, a Covenant that calls on us to (as God called on Abraham and Sarah: Be a blessing in the lives that we lead (Genesis 12:2) and to follow as best we can God’s teachings and to be worthy of them (Genesis 17:1). Our Covenant with God also calls us to use every ounce of our talent to try to create in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our synagogue, in our nation, in Israel, and in our world a just, caring, compassionate society built on the biblical ideals–of Tzedakah and Mishpat–of righteousness and justice. (Genesis 18:19)

Although I have real concerns as I return to the city of my father’s birth and upbringing, I will certainly be aware that the Leipzig to which I return is very different than the Leipzig my father left. Buoyed by the reality of today, I will return to Leipzig to proclaim with the joy and hope Rabbi Meir of Apt recommends.

Although we can never undo the past, we can learn its lessons and build a better future—a future marked by righteousness and justice–for ourselves our children and the generations to come

Noa and Great grandmaThe irrepressible 93-year-old artist Stefanie Steinberg (Vickie’s mother) subject of the exhibition at the Holstenshcule in Neumünster, Germany, holding three-year-old great-grandaughter, Noa Lauren Moskowitz with whom she has a special bond.