Monday
Oct162006

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Europe

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Worms, Germany



We went to see the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in all of Europe. It was incredible. The oldest headstone dates to the year 1076. Jews were buried there from 1076 to 1911. We walked through and saw a variety of headstones and different areas dedicated to different people. You have to remember, Jews were thriving in this part of Germany when this cemetery was set up. Worms was a "Jewish Center" for Europe.



Typically, even when visiting Jewish graves of someone that the visitor never knew, he or she would leave a small stone at the graveside. This shows that someone had visited, and represents permanence. This contrasts with the common custom of leaving flowers, which do not live long. Another reason for leaving stones is tending the grave. In Biblical times, graves were marked with mounds of stones, so by placing (or replacing) them, one perpetuated the existence of the site.
Saturday
Oct072006

The Great Commodity: Time

Time Waits For No Man

Here I sit in disbelief that it's the 7th of October! Where is the time going? It's a little bit scary, especially being aware that we are here for a very limited time.

We had plannned a trip to Trier, Germany this weekend but we cancelled because of the tremendous amount of work we have to do here in the house (still). Although Trier is less than 2 hours away, we are surrounded by boxes and "stuff" that need to be put away and we can't avoid that. Saturday is the day you have to go shopping (food) because everything here is shut down on Sunday. The point is, we have to get settled before we start running off to France and Italy (all of the countries) - but WE WILL (eventually).

The "reality" of Europe is starting to hit us too. It is very expensive here and there are a lot of cultural "issues/barriers" here too. Lately,

I've become preoccupied with the German people (and attitude) pre-Holocaust. I've been reading about the anti-Semetic attitude in the 19th and 20th Century of the people here and some history of the village we live in. There are 31 death camps within an 8 hour drive of our village, I'll try to visit all of them in the next three years.

I'm interested in what makes the German people the way they are today. If you've lived in Germany you know what I'm talking about.

More to come...

Wednesday
Sep132006

Welche Sprache sprechen Sie?

German Class (Welche Sprache sprechen Sie?)

We've been going to our German class this week. It's great. This is a tough language for me, but I'll get it. Summer and Jean are really doing well with it. At one point in my life I was fluent in Spanish so I thought another language would be easier, it's not. Maybe I'm just getting too old ;-) Give me a few months and I'll be speaking like the Chancellor!

(click here to see a short video from tonight's class)



Also, I found this to be very interesting. I am starting to do research on the death camps in Poland and Germany. It's a sad and sick history.

First rabbis to be ordained in Germany since Holocaust
Sep 14 12:35 AM US/Eastern

Three rabbis are to be ordained in the eastern German city of Dresden in the first such ceremony in the country since World War II.
They studied at the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam outside Berlin which was founded in 1999 with the aim of strengthening the Jewish religion in Germany after the ravages of the Holocaust.

The college is the only institution in Germany that trains rabbis.

The three rabbis are planning to take up positions at synagogues in Munich in southern Germany, in Oldenburg in the northwest of the country and in Cape Town in South Africa, the college said on Wednesday.

The historical moment has been welcomed by the Central Council of Jews in Germany as a "return to normality".

"We need many more rabbis, 30, 40 times as many as we have," the deputy president of the council, Dieter Graumann, said on Wednesday.

Some 600,000 Jews lived in Germany before the Holocaust.

Today the country's Jewish community counts about 110,000 members, the vast majority of whom emigrated from the former Soviet bloc after its collapse and the reunification of Germany.
Wednesday
Sep132006

Coleman Barracks

I always feel compelled to post an image with every blog. I suppose I'm used to seeing words and images together - a storytelling thing..

Anyway, we're slowly, but surely, settling in and getting our bearing. We're painting the house, taking German classes and assimilating as much as possible. It's a process.

I work on a remote Kaserne near Sandhofen, right off of the Autobahn. It's called Coleman Barracks. It's really an air field (Called Coleman Army Airfield). It was a concentration camp for a short time; 1944-1945. It's small and very empty (for all intents and purposes). You can tell that it was a bustling place in its time but now the "cold war" is over, these places are going away. It's scheduled to close in 2010 or 2011. I hope to stay to the end (unless something better comes along).


Driving on Coleman at sunrise this morning.

Sunday
Sep032006

Innerstadt Fest: Viernheim, Germany

Saturday night we went to the "innerstadt fest" in our village. It's literally a five minute walk to the village center (the big church) from our house.
It was very fun. A lot of eye-candy and interesting food and drink.

Here's a small video describing and showing interaction with the locals.



(7.2 MB WMV Movie)