In early October, Dan Schulman joined Keshet as the new Massachusetts Community Organizer. Before he could get settled, Dan was off to Germany to participate in a unique trip: The Germany Close Up Fellowship: An Open Program for LGBT Young Professionals. This trip was sponsored by “Germany Close Up – American Jews Meet Modern Germany,” an organization that seeks to “enrich transatlantic dialogue” and provide a way for young Jewish professionals to experience the diversity and history of modern Germany, and was co-sponsored by He’bro. This is the first LGBT-focused trip for the group. Dan checked in with us via email to let us know what he was learning.
It’s been an intense first two days here in Berlin. Although we are jetlagged, we began our program delving into German history. Here are photos of the foundation of the very first shul in Berlin. Anecdotally, the women of the 50 Jewish families in the first settlement were unhappy when it was built, as it took prayer out of the home. Instead of telling you why that made them so unhappy, I’d like to hear your best guesses – leave them in the comments section!
This is Director of Germany Close Up, Dr. Dagmar Pruin (in red), speaking to us about one of the monuments we saw. It commemorates non-Jewish women protesting to have their Jewish husbands released in February and March, 1943.
These men had been interned as part of the “Final Round-up of Berlin Jews.” The officers were told to shoot these protestors, but they didn’t. In fact, many of these men were eventually returned, in no small part thanks to their wives’ efforts.
Lastly, a highlight from today was visiting memorials for the Jews Murdered in Europe (that’s actually the name of the monument) and one for the homosexuals “persecuted.” The memorial for the homosexuals consisted of a film of male and female couples kissing. Article 175 criminalized a basic kiss. Jewish gay men (little to no evidence documents lesbian Jewish persecution, according to guides) were marked doubly in camps and quickly died due to a lack of support – their families and friends denounced them. Today, we commemorated them.