My father served in the United States army in World War II.
Growing up, we were not allowed to buy anything from Germany, even something as small as a pencil. Bringing anything with the words “Made in Germany” into the house was a huge mistake.
Hanukkah is the eight day holiday celebrating the miracle of Jewish survival in the time of the ancient Greek occupation of the Holy Land and the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple.
A photo in Yad Vashem, shared on Facebook, of a Hanukkah menorah had a story:
It was the eighth night of Chanukah in Kiel, Germany, a small town with a Jewish population of 500. That year, 1931, the last night Chanukah fell on Friday evening, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, spiritual leader of the town was hurrying to light the Menorah before the Shabbat set in.
Directly across the Posner’s home stood the Nazi headquarters in Kiel, displaying the dreaded Nazi Party flag in the cold December night. With the eight lights of the Menorah glowing brightly in her window, Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, snapped a photo of the Menorah and captured the Nazi building and flag in the background.
She wrote a few lines in German on the back of the photo. “Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”
I want to share a few lines in German from the eve of this Hanukkah – 5776.
On December 6, 2015, President Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin greeted the President of Germany Joachim Gauck and his wife Mrs. Daniela Schadt. The Germans were on an official visit to Israel as part of the celebrations marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.
They arrived at the Israeli President’s Residence in an Israeli government official car with Israeli and German flags flying.
The German President listened to translation as President Rivlin spoke in Hebrew.
The German President replied in German, adding Hanukkah wishes in his remarks in the Israeli President’s house in Jerusalem, Israel.
As with all official government visitors, the German President sat at a special table to sign the guest book.
The message written in the official Israeli guest book by Gauck was in German,
“50 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Israel and German – 50 Years Developing from Understanding and Ultimately ‘Friendship’.
Thanks for this Miracle, Joachim Gauck
The Nazis of 1931 gained more power, but were defeated. Now Israel and Germany are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations.
Another Hanukkah of lights, a modern day Hanukkah miracle.
For me standing near the red carpet arrival ceremony, with German flags and anthems playing, I kept thinking of that Hanukkah menorah photo and Rachel Posner’s quote:
‘JUDEA WILL LIVE FOREVER’, THUS RESPOND THE LIGHTS.