Leonie’s View – A Message for Shavuot

Chag Sameach, everyone. I have just come back to Britain from a week in Berlin. I have walked passed the Gestapo HQ; I visited the Wannasse House where the “Final Solution” was agreed in a 90 minute meeting; I walked on platform 17, the goods railway track at Grunewald Station,where most of Berlins Jews were taken to concentration camps.

I looked into the Glass Memorial to the Book Burning in May 1938, opposite the Humbolt University. I looked down on small brass commemorative street plaques; each named a Jewish individual, indicating this was, at one point, his or her home…

Multicultural practices, including the old Jewish traditions, are now alive again in Berlin

Multicultural practices, including the old Jewish traditions, are now alive again in Berlin

One week in Berlin. One week and my Jewish history was everywhere around me.

50,000 Jews live in Berlin today, including 20,000 Israeli immigrants. Hebrew is heard on the busy shopping streets and the Jewish sites are major visitor attractions. The orthodox synagogue in Joachim Street is formal and attended on Shabbat by mainly old Russian Jews.

One week to remind me of a catastrophe like no other in our history, or for that matter in the history of any other nation.

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments to the Jews at Mount Sinai

Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments to the Jews at Mount Sinai

One week – 2 days prior to the holiday of Shavuot. The holiday where we became a nation, where we declared our commitment to monotheism, and where we stated our commitment to a binding set of moral codes and practices. The festival when we read the story of the Book of Ruth, the Biblical narrative about generosity, empathy, sensitivity, about care for the needy and the poor, the widow and the orphan, the disadvantaged in society.

In light of this, the name Ruth is associated with acts of kindness. However, the now disused opposite of the name Ruth – ruthless – is synonymous with the actions carried out in Nazi Germany and recalled by me in my week in Berlin.

One week. One shavua. A time for me for reflection. Chag Sameach.

If you have a few hours and can be a bit more generous with your time to help the less fortunate, please visit the JVN website to register as a volunteer and search for your perfect volunteering opportunity. And to find out what we’ve been up to at JVN over the last few months, please click here to request a copy of our latest newsletter.

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Categories: Leonie's View

Author:Mike

Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at mike@jvn.org.uk and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to www.jvn.org.uk and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.

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