Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day–was last week.
One of my professors is traveling to Germany and asked me about my own trip there in 2001. I wrote him the following and thought I’d share it here:
I went to Russia and Germany in high school on a choir tour, which tells you a lot about public school in Princeton! We performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, a masterful work that added another layer of pathos to the trip–singing about the Jews’ betrayal of Jesus in Germany. I always remember the line “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?” Jesus asking God, “Why have you forsaken me?”
It was February. Freezing, with snow on the ground. Bleak. Gray. In Berlin, we went to the Neue Synagogue. I hope you get a chance to visit it. It’s a majestic building in the Moorish style. Part of it is still a burned out husk. And of course the congregation is a mere fraction of what its once was. Most of the building is a museum–that in and of itself turns my stomach–too close to Hitler’s dream realized. Among the exhibits is a set of red curtains that hung in front of the ark. They are now lying in a glass case and you can still see the boot prints crushed into the velvet. The Rabbi at the Neue Synagogue in the 1930s was Yoachim Prinz. His activism made him a gestapo target. He escaped Germany and went on to open for Dr. King at the rally where he gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.” He was also my mother’s rabbi growing up.