My dear Jewish friend 10: Roaming the streets of Bamberg with Heschel on my mind

The steps of my feet echoed on the pavement as I crossed through a smaller street in the old city center of Bamberg. My restless mind was weary and I tried to avoid the most popular streets, which were so prominent with tourists from all over the world.

Its now one and a half years since we had to abandon the life we had built in New York – and I had to leave the comfort of a special friend behind, who lived so close to me and shared my passion for those on the fringes of society. I feel alone in this German city that prouds itself of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is full of history, broken history, and millions of tourists are flocking to see how splendid Germany must have one looked before the Second World War. I feel alone – sometimes even from G*d, I must admit. I often lament, why He has called me here to teach hundreds of Federal Police cadets instead of leaving me in the close comfort of our friendship.

So, in the last weeks I dug deeper into the wisdom of those, who have inspired my research during my doctoral studies. Abraham Josua Heschel, whose daughter Susannah I had the honour to meet in New York as I organised a panel discussion about „Luther and Antisemitism“ with the Leo Baeck Institute in 2017, I found an interfaith ally. As Heschel moved to Berlin to pursue his academic career, he felt alienated as a Hasidic in the bustling German capital. He roamed the streets – and maybe he even felt alone and lost in translation from one culture to the next as I do right now. I am aware that I’m a German citizen. I speak the language. I know the culture. I have been brought up with the food. But my life´s journey has put an undeniable multicultural imprint on me. My thoughts and ideas are as diverse as the cultures and places that have had an impact on me. But in this Roman Catholic city it seems like only a streamlined person with a monocultural background is accepted (preferably Franconian having lived here all of their lives). Immediately upon arrival in this Roman Catholic context I was told straight into the face that as a Lutheran pastor I should get used to being minor and should get used to this fact. No wonder, I find it hard to feel at home.

As I lamented one evening on my way beyond the tourist paths of Bamberg, it was a poem of the Rabbi I adore for his deep connection of faith and social justice that spoke consolation to me – it was as if through time the Rabbi spoke compassionate words of G*d´s presence to a lonesome German Lutheran pastor:

God follows me everywhere— 
spins a net of glances around me, 
shines upon my sightless back like the sun.

God follows me like a forest everywhere. 
My lips, always amazed, are truly numb, dumb, 
like a child who blunders upon an ancient holy place.

God follows me like a shiver everywhere. 
The desire in me is for rest; the demand within me is: Rise up,
See how prophetic visions are scattered in the streets!

I go with my reveries as with a secret
In a long corridor through the world— 
and sometimes I see high above me, the faceless face of God.

God follows me in tramways, in cafes.
Oh, it is only with the backs of one’s eyes that one can see 
how secrets ripen, how visions come to be.

Abraham Josua Heschel, The Ineffable Name of God: Man, originally published Warsaw 1933, translated from the Yiddish by Morton M. Leifmann, New York 2007, p. 57.

These words spoke deeply to my soul and called my thoughts back into perspective. G*d has always been with me, no matter where I went throughout my life journey and the places he has led me to:

the long stretched, agricultural region of Franconia and its society being aligned to monocultural structure during my childhood and youth

the beautiful American South, its mesmerising city of Charleston and the tensions of its past and present

the industrial nation of Japan pressing forward in time and economy with its fascinating ancient culture that embraces the future

the lively city of Frankfurt, providing space for a multicultural society paving the way for Germany to become a more manifold and welcoming nation

the remote islands of Orkney with its stunning nature, which is one of the most beautiful places of G*ds creation I have ever seen

the state Bavaria dominated by its capital Munich as the industrial motor of Germanys South and its harsh cement desert

the diverse city of New York as the secret capitol of the Western world, which is one of a kind and took me in as one of its own

and the medieval city of Bamberg fascinating uncounted tourists by its beauty, but finding it difficult to embrace those who are different.

Its Heschel words of G*d´s presence are consoling as I am trying to come to terms that sometimes the paths we are led down are not the ones we maybe have wished for. And perhaps one day, if G*d provides, we will again roam down streets, neighbourhoods or islands together. Until then, may our faith and friendship be the bond that reminds us that G*d follows us everywhere.

This is the Yiddish original poem in a beautiful interpretation:

My dear Jewish friend 9: Pictures of hope and happiness

I stared at the old picture in awe. Six men and a women were gathered around an embroidered table and deliciously filled beer steins. In the center of the picture was a gentleman with a hat and beard, who clearly looked Jewish. He proudly glanced back at me. As my gaze wandered over the details of this special snap shot in time I spotted two police officers to the left and right. They were a natural part of this cheerful and positive happening.

Uffenheim in the 1890s or 1900s. A window into the life of my hometown before Hitlers murderous thoughts, his evil making and hating ideology took grip of Franconia and the place I grew up.

The picture you see on the bottom is from my friend Rick Landman. By G´d´s providence we met years ago in New York. Who would have ever dreamed that the friendship, which once flourished before the disaster of the Nazi-Regime, would be reinstated by two Uffenheimer finding each other amongst millions of people in one of the busiest cities of this world?

(Bild: Rick Landman)

The proud Jewish gentleman in the middle is Ricks great-grandfather Gabriel Oettinger (1862-1903). He was able to experience as Jewish people became full citizens in Germany 1871. To me he looks happy and proud – along with all the other people. I can fully understand, as I’ve experienced how enriching, enlightening and heart-warming diverse and welcoming societies can be, if they dare to. The New York experience of diversity has changed my heart and soul forever.

Nonetheless, with emancipation having blossomed in Germany within years the pendulum swung back under the Nazi regime to an even more disastrous state than ever before. My hometown Uffenheim prided itself to be „judenfrei“ before everyone else and adhering to the Nazi regime more than other places. Martin Oettinger (Ricks grandfather), who was a proud born Uffenheimer, had to flee for his life.

The old picture is a proof that a different kind of society is possible- even in Uffenheim, which has once adhered so eagerly to a murderous regime and is presently very conservative. As I am now not only carrying the weight of my ancestors doings, the guilt of my Lutheran church body, but by wearing a Police uniform as a chaplain I am responsible to embrace the complicitness of this institution during Hitler as well. I hope that the picture of friendship, joy and happiness once taken in Uffenheim will foreshadow what can be in the presence and future: By reinstating a friendship amongst those, who once shared the same table, there is hope beyond time through those embracing each other in love and commitment.

May this new picture be a hopeful beginning of what once was possible in the small Franconia town of Uffenheim.

Information about Rick Landman and his family’s story, please visit his website.

Zu Gast bei Initiative 27. Januar

Am Abend des Epiphanienfestes war ich zu Gast bei Initiative 27. Januar. Im neuen, modernen Talkformat bei Instagram durfte ich mit Herrn Matthias Böhning meine biografischen und theologischen Zugänge zu Friedens- und Versöhnungsarbeit, Rassismus und Antisemitismus in Übersee und Deutschland sprechen. Es war eine spannende Unterhaltung, die mir sehr viel Spaß gemacht hat. Ich danke Herrn Böhning sehr für diese Einladung und lege die Initiative allen Leserinnen und Lesern ans Herz! Mitmachen könnt ihr bereits jetzt ganz konkret durch die Unterstützung des Projekts „Weiße Rosen und Briefe für Holocaustüberlebende“ (Link).

Hier ist der Zugang zum Video, der auf IGTV gepostet wurde:

My dear Jewish friend 6: Shalom and Shared Roots of Faith

When entering our apartment, my hand softly touched the Hebrew letters of שלום. Shalom. Peace. Frieden. I sighed deeply as the well-known words of the Shema Israel came over my lips. Protected by a beautiful bright blue outside the small parchment scroll of the Mezuzah contained important parts of the Holy Scriptures (1) and was a precious memory of seven years in New York.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

Deut 6,4-5

Shalom. Peace. Frieden.

Our world is struggling heavily to find peace. Despite a raging pandemic, a large portion of our world is still engulfed in different conflicts and wars. (2) What a terrible fact as Christianity is celebrating Christmastide and all nations are heading for the New Year!

Year after year I am hoping for peace to come. Even though you and I live in peaceful nations, many are not as fortunate. My own nation has not lived up to the basic religious principal engrained into Judaism and Christianity. During the Nazi dictatorship most Germans were official members of the Roman Catholic or Protestant Churches, but didn’t live up to the concept of shalom. Instead, they were eagerly part of a murderous, diabolical system. Large numbers did not simply forget the connections between Judaism and Christianity, but some very actively tried to destroy every trace of shared values.

When on a very cold night of November 9 the local Rabbi Dr. Salomon Almekias-Siegl came to our Christian home, it felt as if a tide of personal family history was turning in healing ways. It could have not been a more touching date for installing our Mezuzah at the apartment door of our German Christian family. On what is today known as „Kristallnacht“ (3), from November 9 to 10, 1938 when synagogues and Jewish property were burned and destroyed on a large scale, and hundreds Jews were killed or driven to commit suicide, it was this gesture of שלום that deeply moved us.

After checking that the small scroll was kosher, the Rabbi spoke the blessing hanging the mezuzah slanted on the right side of the door, facing inwards towards our apartment. My thoughts went to the biblical story of the Rabbi Jesus discussing religious matters with scribes where he referred to the Shema Israel and the commandment to love neighbour and self as the highest commandments of faith (Marc 12:28-31). If only the perpetrators of the Nazi dictatorship large and small would have lived up to this commandment instead of killing millions of Jews!

Now, day after day, as I pass through our door, the bright blue Mezuzah and its silver letters remind me that the way to שלום is adhering to these fundamental commandments, which bind Judaism and Christianity together. I am so thankful for this reminder, which was installed on one a night that reminds us of one of the darkest night in German history.

Shalom. Peace. Frieden.

With every new day rising and every passing through our doorway my hope grows that God´s kingdom will grow in our broken world by love we show God and our neighbour.

(1) Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21.

(2) Statista:

(3) The Night of Broken Glass

My dear Jewish friend 5: United against hunger

It took me months, my dear Jewish friend, to have the courage to look for a new commitment to fight against hunger. My heart and hands were dreaming about our shared fight against hunger. You have taken me in as a Christian into your beautiful Jewish pantry – and you have changed my life forever. Your leadership has showed one German pastor and her family how reconciliation makes its way into hearts and lives through the shared care for those less fortunate.

As I missed you and the community of Kohl Ami week after week it was a Jewish story about the Lithuanian Rabbi Haim Romshishker that became important to me. It emphasises how important compassion for the poor is. A value we as Christians and Jews share. This compassion may be the decisive moment one feels like being in heaven or hell:

„Once, I went up into the sky and also entered hell. I looked around and saw: old and young men sitting rows upon rows in front of tables that were full of all the best things, each holding a long spoon in hand. And when one reached for his mouth, he wouldn’t be able to because of the spoon’s length. And so they all sat row against row with their souls dry and a great sorrow rested on their faces. I went over to one of them and said to him: „A fool in the world! Rather your eyes seeing all this goodness and craving, send the spoon that is attached to your hand and support your friend who sits opposite you. And he will, in turn, support you with the spoon attached to his hand.“

The man looked at me with meager eyes and replied:

„It would better for my eyes to see and crave all day long than for me to see him enjoy and be satiated.“ I was alarmed to hear this, so I opened my mouth to scream a loud scream and woke up.

(Alter Druyanov (1870-1938): Sefer habedichah vehachidud 1935, 2. Buch, Abschnitt betitelt mit „bein adam l’chavero“)

Dear Jewish friend, I was so blessed that we shared what we had in these dense pandemic months in New York and fed those, who were less fortunate than we were. We rejoiced in having fed some of the poor. It took me weeks to let go of what we had and make these moments precious memories. I will forever carry them in my heart.

A few weeks ago I took my courage together to seek a pantry in my new German home town. Even though Germany has a robust social system there are so many, there is plenty of hunger and need. So I am now honouring our friendship by giving out bakery on Saturday noon to those less fortunate.

Here are a few images from the pantry – I am sure you’ll recognise the tichel, I often wore at your pantry.

My dear Jewish friend 4: The Franconian newspaper connection

Saturday morning rush. I was standing in line for the cash register. With people only slowly moving forward, I glanced through the newspaper shelf right next to me. There were different German newspapers pilled up reaching from local papers like the „Fränkischer Tag“, „Süddeutsche Zeitung“ having an emphasis on the south of Bavaria, and even international ones. „The New York Times“ brought a smile to my face. This newspaper was of such importance to me as I lived and worked as a German pastor in New York. You, my dear Jewish friend, are a vivid newspaper reader yourself. And I remember us discussing politics, news and happenings with one another. But did you know, that The New York Times has Franconian roots? Without a courageous and visionary descendant of a Franconian Jew, who emigrated to the United States, both of us wouldn’t have had this great and fearless news source.

Adolph S. Ochs, American newspaper publisher and former owner of The New York Times, was a descendant of Franconians. His father Julius migrated from Fürth in 1844 at the age of 18 to the USA and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Adolph Simon Ochs was the oldest of six siblings. At the age of eleven he started to earn money as a newsboy, pursued a printer apprenticeship and bought The New York Times in 1896 at the age of 38 before the paper went bankrupt. The rest is history. Up to today The New York Times sets the highest standards for investigative, critical, and independent journalism. (1)

No wonder that you and I, my dear Jewish friend, were so perfectly informed through the rough year of 2020, where a pandemic, an up cry against Racism and Antisemitism, economic difficulties, and a nation divided over elections made the ground beneath us shake. But we held on to each other and our deep hope for a better world as we were involved in תיקון עולם (Tikkun Olam). A paper diary, in which I kept the most important articles of The New York Times reminds me of this faithful year of 2020.

And so it came about many years and generations later during a year of hardship, doubts, and uncertanty that The New York Times was a lifeline for Christian pastor from Franconia living and working in New York. And this I can surely and wholeheartedly say: Adolph Ochs memory is for a blessing.

(1) Source: Verein zur Förderung des Jüdischen Museums Franken – Fürth, Schnaittach und Schwabach e.V., Vereinsmitteilungen Nr. 58, Juni 2021, S. 9.

Von Thermometern und kulturellen Segensspuren

Ich öffnete das Fenster und sog die warme Herbstluft ein, die nach goldenem Oktober roch. Während ich mich auf das Fensterbrett stützte, schloß ich die Augen. Bilder der vergangenen Indian Summer zogen an mir vorüber. Erinnerungen an bunte Wälder im Upstate New York, die in unterschiedlichen Nuancen von strahlendem Gelb, kräftigen Rot und sattem Braun wie von magischer Hand gemalt sich vor uns auf unseren Spaziergängen entfaltet hatten.

Ich wurde abrupt aus meinen Erinnerungen gerissen und wieder zurück in das Bamberger Klassenzimmer geholt. „Hallo, Frau Groß! Sollen wir die anderen Fenster auch öffnen?“, fragte ein Anwärter und sah mich fragend an. „Ja. Das ist eine gute Idee.“ Mein Blick streifte an einem Thermometer vorbei, das als Zeichen der längst vergangenen Zeit der einstigen US-amerikanischen Kaserne in großen Lettern die Temperatur in Fahrenheit und in kleineren in Celsius anzeigte.

Und schon stürzten wir uns in den berufsethischen Unterricht. Mit meinem Dienstbeginn in der Bundespolizei war bei mir die alte Hoffnung meiner Kindheit wieder wach geworden, endlich ganz in Deutschland anzukommen. Doch immer wieder tauchten in den Unterhaltungen und Nachfragen meiner Polizeianwärterinnen und -anwärter Fragen zu meinem eigenen interkulturellen Aufwachsen auf deutsch-amerikanischem Horizont, und meine mehrfachen Auslandserfahrungen auf.

In gewisser Weise glich mein Leben dem Thermometer, das am äußeren Rahmen des Klassenfensters angebracht war. Wie die Temperaturanzeige oszilliere ich zwischen kulturellen und gesellschaftlichen Systemen hin und her. Oft rast- und ruhelos ohne wirklich in Deutschland oder USA anzukommen.

Viele meiner Polizeianwärterinnen und -anwärter teilen die Erfahrung zwischen Kulturen aufzuwachsen. Wie ich sehen sie sich als Deutsche. Sie meistern gleichzeitig die Herausforderung, die Kulturen ihrer Familien in sich zu vereinen und ihnen eine Heimat zu schenken. Ich weiß, wie schwer dies sein kann und bin nach mehreren Auslandserfahrungen zu dem Entschluss gekommen, dass ich nie ganz an einem Ort ankommen werde. Deutsch, aber immer mit einem amerikanischen Anteil. Während ich als Kind dadurch eher die Ausnahme in einer kleinen fränkischen Stadt war, wird Deutschland zunehmend kulturell vielgestaltig. Diese Erfahrung teilen zahlreiche Polizeianwärterinnen und -anwärter. Sie machen die Bundespolizei stärker, denn sie bringen vielfältige interkulturelle Kompetenzen, wichtige Sprachkenntnisse und religiöse Erfahrungshintergründe mit. Solche Fertigkeiten können in polizeilichen Situationen von großer Hilfe sein, um wertvolle Brücken der Verständigung zu schlagen. So wie das Thermometer zwischen Fahrenheit und Celsius die Temperatur in eine jeweils verständliche Einheit übersetzten.

Die Unterrichtsstunde war wie im Flug verstrichen. Ich verabschiedete mich von meiner Lehrgruppe, die in fleißiger Eile zum nächsten Unterricht ging. Während ich das Fenster schloß, blieb mein Blick dankbar am Thermometer haften. Es würde mich Woche um Woche daran erinnern, welch ein Segen Menschen sein können, die Kulturen in sich vereinen.

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:

Glaube verpflichtet – vom notwendigen Engagement gegen Rassismus und Antisemitismus

„Justice is served“ – ich rieb meine Augen nach einer unruhigen Nacht und versuchte meinen noch müden Blick auf die Nachricht meiner amerikanischen Freundin zu fokussieren. Plötzlich war ich hellwach. Ich setzte mich im Bett viele Meilen weg von meiner vergangenen New Yorker Heimat auf und schaltete umgehend die Nachrichten ein. Während draußen die Natur langsam erwachte, wanderten die Bilder des vergangenen Jahres über meinen deutschen Bildschirm und riefen die Erinnerungen einer sehr bewegten Zeit in meinem Herzen wach.

„Justice is served“ – ein tiefer Seufzer entfuhr mir in Erleichterung um einen Schuldspruch, der so notwendig war und endlich ein deutliches Zeichen gegen Rassismus in den USA setzte. Vor einem guten Jahr war ich mit anderen auf die Straße gegangen, um gegen den Mord des schwarzen Amerikaners und den tief im Land verwurzelten Rassismus zu demonstrieren. Immer wieder brach dieser durch Polizeigewalt hervor.

Aber ich kannte als ehrenamtliche Polizeiseelsorgerin auch die andere Seite: Polizistinnen und Polizisten, die sich gegen ein zutiefst rassistisches System engagieren. Die selbst dunkle Hautfarbe trugen und versuchten von Innen heraus die Polizeikultur zu verändern. Fünfeinhalb Jahre durfte ich in New York als ehrenamtliche Seelsorgerin Polizistinnen und Polizisten begleiten, sie unterstützten, ihnen zuhören und als Brückenbauerin Verbindungen zwischen der örtlichen Polizeistation und den Anwohnern herstellen. Dies war besonders im vergangenen Jahr dringend notwendig geworden, um miteinander ins Gespräch zu kommen, gemeinsame gelingende Wege zu suchen und zu heilen.

Aus meiner Sicht ist es ungemein wichtig, dass wir uns aufgrund der engen geschichtlichen und wirtschaftlichen Verbindung von Deutschland und USA über die grundlegende und beunruhigende Nähe von Rassismus und Antisemitismus bewusst werden. Beide sind gefährliche Irrlehren, die zutiefst der christlichen Botschaft widersprechen. Sie sind ideologische Zwillinge, die nicht nur Hass verbreiten, sondern auch Menschenleben kosten.

Wie aber entsteht dieser Hass gegen Menschen? Unvergeßlich ist mir ein Seminar, das ich im Rahmen meines Zusatzstudiums bei Professorin Beverly Mitchell, die am Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. lehrt, besuchen durfte. Sie stellte uns ihre Arbeit zum systemischen Vergleich von Konzentrationslagern und Sklavenplantagen vor. Die zum Himmel schreienden systemischen Analogien öffneten mir die Augen und ließen mich verstehen, warum sie bei Rassismus und Antisemitismus von „Zwillingen des Hasses“ (Engl.: „Twins of Hate“) sprach. Diese tödlichen Irrlehren haben ihre Wurzeln in der grundlegenden Ideologie, bestimmte Gruppen unter Verwendung von Ausschlussgesetzen, wirtschaftlicher Ausbeutung, Sklaverei, Mord und anderen Formen der Ungerechtigkeit auszuschließen und niederzudrücken.

Rassismus und Antisemitismus sind somit ideologische Zwillinge, die ihre Wurzeln tief in einer nährenden Grundlage haben: Im Hass gegen andere, in der Ausgrenzung, Ausbeutung und sogar Tötung wie im Falle George Floyds und zahlreichen anderen. Sie sind Irrlehren, die die von Gott geschenkte Gottebenbildlichkeit verletzen und mit dem uns von Jesus gebotenen Doppelgebot der Liebe brechen.

Dieses Engagement gegen Rassismus und Antisemitismus, das tief verwurzelt in dem Gebot der Nächstenliebe und Gottebenbildlichkeit ist, begleitet mich auch nun als Seelsorgerin in der Bundespolizei in Bamberg als dem größten polizeilichen Aus- und Fortbildungszentrums Europas. Hier darf ich junge Polizeianwärterinnen und -anwärter in ihrer Ausbildung begleiten und für alle in dieser Lehreinrichtung Tätigen als Seelsorgerin arbeiten. Ein Privileg und gleichzeitig eine große Verantwortung.

„Justice is served“ – an diesem Morgen blickte ich mit Dankbarkeit auf die jubilierende Nachricht meiner amerikanischen Freundin. Der in der letzten Nacht getroffene Schuldspruch war von so unglaublicher Wichtigkeit, denn ein wertvolles Menschenleben war aufgrund einer rassistischen Einstellung ermordet worden. Gleichzeitig verpflichtet er rund um die Welt Menschen, dass sie überall dort, wo Menschen als Ebenbilder Gottes verletzt und ermordet werden, aufstehen im Namen des Schöpfers unserer Welt und sich für Gerechtigkeit und Frieden jenseits von Hautfarbe, Nation, Herkunft und finanzieller Leistungsfähigkeit einsetzen. Dafür will ich einstehen, wo mich Gott in den Dienst beruft.

My dear Jewish friend 1

A few weeks ago we sat on the steps to our kitchen. As you presented me with a flat package containing my farewell gift, I could feel my throat go dry. Over the last months we grew together in ways our ancestors would have never even envisaged. I, the descendant of perpetrators during World War II, and you, carrying the weight of Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust, have been bound together by caring for those, who have been hit hardest by the economic implication the pandemic. You welcomed me in your pantry in such loving ways seeing the person and not the historic background I carry on my shoulders.
As I opened the gift, tears poured down my face in streams. The white plate lying in my hands had the most beloved verses of Jesus Christ imprinted: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” What a gift to receive out of the hands of my Jewish friend.
You have welcomed me as a German stranger into your Jewish pantry. You empowered me to help those, who were most in need, and helped me to overcome some of the hurt of my nations broken past.
It is this commitment that drives me as I am called to serve the German Federal Police. Soon I will be teaching young police officers in ethical decision making. I will stand strong against any form of Antisemitism, Racism, and other shapes of hatred. I will hopefully be able to commit many others tho this important deed. Germany has changed. It is still a working progress, but there are many of us, who take the courage to stand strong against Antisemitism and Racism.
I miss you dearly, my Jewish friend. I miss the special times we had together. The coffees and chats. The afternoon strolls around our neighborhood. The times of serving together for those in need – every Thursday I become silent as my hands dream of placing food into bags at your lovely pantry.
I know, that what happened in Nazi-Germany to your people, was a pure evil and murderous crime. It has left deep scars on your soul and those of others. When I broke the news to you that I would need to return to Germany, I could see the fright on your face. I am dreaming of welcoming you to Germany someday. This year we are celebrating 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. As I am waiting for this pandemic to pass, I will start writing about Jewish life in Germany, and signs of hope and glimpses of faith that connects us on a deep spiritual and personal level.

Love from Germany!