Von Tränen und Erinnerungen

Ich drücke die AirPods fest und lehne mich in meinem Bürostuhl zurück. Während die samtweiche Stimme der Jazz-Pop Sängerin Lisa Ekdahl mich mit wohltuender Ruhe erfüllt, schließe ich die Augen und träume mich zurück in eine andere Zeit und lasse die neue Heimat Bamberg hinter mir.

„Cry me a river…“ singt es leise in mein Ohr. Vor mir erscheint das Crew-Hotel von Japan Airlines, das mir aufgrund meiner vielen dienstlichen Reisen als Flugbegleiterin vor einer gefühlten Ewigkeit neben den Twin Towers ans Herz gewachsen war. Damals vor über zwanzig Jahren war es ein selbstverständlicher Ort, an dem ich vertraute Strukturen auf meinen Reisen von Frankfurt über Tokyo nach New York gefunden hatte. Der Buchladen, an dem ich Stunden kaffeetrinkend und in Büchern schmökernd verbrachte, erschien vor meinem inneren Auge. Die herrlichen Auslagen, die verschachtelten Ebenen und unzähligen Sitzmöglichkeiten. Viele Bücher und dass Album „When did you leave heaven“ von Lisa Ekdahl sind stille Zeugen dieser längst vergangenen Heimat. Auch das Deli um die Ecke, wo wir uns trotz der verrückten Ankunftszeiten und Lebensrhythmen der Flugbegleiter stets etwas rund um die Uhr kaufen konnten, gehört der Vergangenheit an.

Damals wusste ich noch nicht, dass ich Jahre später als Pfarrerin in New York tätig sein würde und bewegt vielen Erlebnissen dieses weltverändernden Tages zuhören durfte. Dieser Tag hat sich für alle in das Gedächtnis eingeprägt – denn er hat nicht nur unsere gefühlte Sicherheit erschüttert, sondern auch den Westen in eine tiefe Krise gestürzt, die das eigene Selbstverständnis hinterfragte.

„Cry me a river…“ singt Lisa Ekdahl in ihrem Liebeslied. Auch am heutigen Tag hält die Welt den Atem an und vergießt Tränen über ein nach wie vor erschütternd unglaubliches Ereignis. Lisa Ekdahl besingt den Verlust einer Liebe, den sie beweint. Zu beweinen ist am heutigen Tag der Verlust so vieler unschuldiger Seelen durch einen Terroranschlag, der in seiner Brutalität seinesgleichen sucht. So viele Menschen verloren an Ground Zero ihr Leben. Durch die nachfolgenden Auswirkungen verstarben unzählige an Krebs und anderen Leiden. Die Tränen sind ungezählt.

„Cry me a river…“

Ich öffne meine Augen während die letzten Zeilen ihres Liedes verklingen und blicke nachdenklich über die Dächer Bambergs während Tränen über mein Gesicht rinnen, die so frei fließen wie Lisa Ekdahls samtweiche Stimme. „Sammle (Gott) meine Tränen in deinen Krug; ohne Zweifel, du zählst sie“ heißt es in Psalm 56,9. Stille Zuversicht über Gottes Präsenz mischt sich in die Traurigkeit in meine Gedanken an diesem 11. September zwanzig Jahre später. All das Leid, das an diesem Tag über die westliche Welt hereinbrach, so verspricht es der Psalmist, ist bei Gott gezählt. Mögen all die Opfer in Gottes Ewigkeit geborgen ruhen.

You can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you
I cried a river over you
I cried a river over you


Kleine Erinnerungen meiner Reisen bei Japan Airlines nach New York:

Reckoning with the Past

The meeting room filled quickly as members of the American Jewish Committee and Interfaith Partners gathered on the cold Sunday afternoon. Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, had summoned this meeting of the AJC Interreligious Affairs Commission on “Christian Responses to the Antisemitism Epidemic.”

As all attending made themselves comfortable, helping themselves to some refreshments and looking through the well prepared material supplied, the room buzzed with warm welcomes and kind introductions. As Rabbi Marans began the meeting, the buzzing group transformed into a quickly concentrating diverse group of Jewish and Interfaith friends, who had gathered to discuss the unsettling rise of Antisemitism and how Christians could respond to this terrible development.

The Rev. Dr. Lee Spitzer, General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA, and author of the book Baptists, Jews, and the Holocaust, spoke about the topic how is own denomination had dealt with Antisemitism and Holocaust through the centuries sharing the experience of persecution in Europe. He talked about the significance of friendship, sacrificial solidarity, and how important it was to learn from missed opportunities for future actions.

Reckoning with the past is a important task we need to actively embrace. As a German citizen I am entitled to say this, because my nation’s past has led to so much death and suffering. This should never ever happen again. As Antisemitism is on the rise, it is urgently time to account for these deadly actions of Nazi Germany and to fulfill our obligations arising from them for the whole world community. In my opinion, we Germans have the holy duty to warn others about the lessons we have learned through the broken history of Nazi Germany. Any kind of slight beginning, any historical analogy needs to be outlined and first steps towards such destruction quickly hindered.

As Rabbi Marans kindly invited me to share a small statement on how Christians may respond to the rise of Antisemitism, I took a leap of faith in those present as I spoke about the broken past of my nation, family, and fears for the presence and future. I am sharing it here in my blog laying my trust in you, dear reader, that we may become partners in remembrance and reconciliation.

Reckoning with the past is the hurtful and necessary step to lead into a just future without Antisemitism, Racism, and Hate. It deeply hurt me on that Sunday afternoon and I had to hold myself together as the words poured out of my heart:

It is a great honor for me to speak today. In full disclosure: I am a German. My grandfather served under Hitler in the Nazi navy. He was half Sinti. I still can´t understand, why he supported and glorified this murderous regime. I remember countless discussions as I challenged his idealization of the Nazi era, which he painted in glorious colors over family gatherings. As I held strong against his words, my reaction was met with anger and emotional coldness as you can well imagine.

It is my holy duty as a descendant of those, who committed crimes under Hitler, and as a Christian through the Gospel to warn about the dangers of right-winged thoughts and antisemitism. Reliving the nightmares of Germany passed is one of my greatest fears…

But this passed Wednesday, Feb 5, we all held our breath as analogies to the beginning of a destructive regime resurfaced in Thuringia, Germany.
Thomas Kemmerich was elected as the new prime minister of the free state of Thuringia. His own party FDP barely made it into the state parliament. Through the help of the rightist party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) and Merkel´s CDU he surprisingly came into this high office. It was as if a breath of Weimar was taking its grip of Germany.

In 1932, Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime came to power through the help of Hindenburg and numerous parties taking down the Weimar Republic. We do not have 1932, but the analogies are frightening: A antidemocratic party is trying to take a grip of the free state of Thuringia, with Weimar at its center. Yesterday, the newly elected prime minister stepped down due to pressure from numerous parties, protestant churches and public protests.

We need swift and courageous actions, because Weimar can be everywhere! Back then, almost unnoticeable hate crawled into everyday life through phrases and small actions of exclusion. As people got used to the dose of hate as part of the daily grind, the intensity increased numbing the human capacity to empathy and solidarity.

“Weimar can be everywhere!” is a warning we need to take seriously. The Jewish Bible calls us to love our neighbor and self. For Christians this is a fundamental principle we are called to. Wherever there are tendencies of right-winged ideology, antisemitism or racism, we have to stand strong and boldly with those, who need our help.

To combat this kind of hate, education is one of the most important keys. As a pastor teaching at the German School I educate the next generation about the holocaust. You may ask my son later, who attends my class together with eight other students. Education is the best antidote we have.

In addition, vital friendships across faiths play a important role. As a small German speaking congregation in New York resembling the larger German Protestant Churches, we reach out to other faith communities and we are blessed to have AJC as an important partner.

“Weimar can be everywhere!” might be true, but as we are setting signs of peace as the beloved community God, we are hindering history to repeat itself.

Thank you for AJC for calling us as the beloved community together that we may be a glimpse of hope for those targeted by antisemitism, racism and hate, those on the margin of our society!