Joyful Simchat Torah

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This early morning I am registered for an international symposium of social work. After a wonderful breakfast the event starts. I have to leave earlier to arrive in time to the synagoge. For one second I deal with the thought to stay in the symposium, where international guests are talking about how they save the world.

At 10 o´clock I am invited to attend at a Jewish service in Central Reform Congregation (

On one hand I am curious how it will be, on the other hand I am afraid after my last experience, about more unpleasant remarks with respect about myself and my relation to Nazi Germany in front, which I could not choose.

Last time I had the impression, that the rabbi was not aware that Nazi Germany and the Germany nowadays is not the same. When he asked me in front of the Jewish community if my city is torn down and the unemployment is like Detroit. It seemed like he did not consider that something could have changed in the past 70 years and the conditions are not comparable today after World War 2. Nevertheless, it is our history. We can´t sweep history under the carpet.

As Jews were condemned to death by the Nazis because of their Religion, We are condemned to explain the detestable behavior of our ancestors to their progenies and to the world. It was so cruel, that I doubt if someone can really explain how this massacre could happen. It will remain an incomprehensible fact.

Nevertheless, I expected to be not only judged by my ancestry.

Since Jessica arranged everything for me, that I do not have to work this morning in Circus, I have a bad conscience and decide that I cannot stay longer.

A female rabbi with high heels is standing on the pulpit.

The service is opened by a klezmer band with a brilliant clarinetist.

While the klezmer band “Gesundheit” plays a joyful song the parish walks six times through the garden in the synagogue. Every round, the Torah is passed to another person.

Suddenly, someone is asking me if I want to carry the Torah. Of course I want to! Nevertheless, I am not sure, if I as a gentile am allowed to carry the most holy book of the Jews. I am hesitating for a moment and wonder if it is better to tell him, that I am not Jewish. Too late. He is holding the Torah towards me in all the joyful hurly-burly. I take the Torah.

The Torah carries a long history. It is not only represented by the length of the divine roll, also by the considerable weight, which I can feel right now.

People are around me to touch the hidden Torah with two fingers and kiss it afterwards.

At the end of my round I am looking for someone, to whom I could pass the Torah. Out of the blue, the smiling rabbi is waving with her hand into my direction. There is no doubt. She wants me to bring up the Torah to the altar.

During the Simchat Torah, where they rewind the scroll namely the Torah, this is an occasion for this joyful celebration. The rabbi introduces Dan from Germany to the parish. (A lot of Americans are not used to my name. Some call me John, some Ian, the Asian Americans named me Yang, Young and the Hispanics Juan.)

I am expecting not only good reactions, since the last experience in the other Jewish parish. Moreover, I worry to have destroyed for some Jews their joyful celebration.

Luckily, the opposite is the case. A lot of people start to talk with me, some even in German. The most remarkable of this wonderful people is for me is Miriam.

She escaped from Germany in 1939 from Germany. She is small but her hand shake is powerful and warm. By looking at my watch, I recognize that the service took surprisingly more than two hours. Unfortunately I have to leave very fast to the City Museum for teaching this afternoon. She gives me her card to meet her again.

I have never seen such a progressive Jewish community.

I am so joyful that I recognize, two stations too late, that I already have passed the bus station of the City museum (

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