A German Jew reconnects & recollects

Wednesday 23 September, 2009

I sat in on this lecture My Germany: A Jewish Writer Returns to the World His Parents Escaped by Lev Raphael @ the Goethe Institute.  Contemporary relations between Germans & Jews was a frequent topic of conversation when I lived/worked in Germany, & this is the 1st time I’ve seen an event with this focus, so I was quite interested.

Lev freely admits his book is a memoir, travelogue, & mystery.  He grew up in a German-speaking neighborhood of New York thinking Germany was the source of all evil, & given his family’s past, that’s understandable.  He fantasized about what would happen if he crashed on a plane in Germany, (the only way he’d ever land there).

Then his mother died & he sought to answer a lot of unresolved questions.  He made a wonderful trip to Magdeburg, when the Germans gave him access to everything he requested.  Soon his books on Judaism were translated into German.  As Lev unabashedly followed-up, if you’d like to know how the story turns out, you’ll have to read the book.

Q&A-Lev defines all European jews as survivors.

Everyone treated him & most authors like royalty in Germany.

Lev credits the Germans for owning up to their past  while observing that the Japanese still haven’t taken responsibility for their atrocities during World
War II & noting that, of course, ALL the French were members of the resistance (wink wink).

During his recent visits to Germany, he felt anti-Americanism, but little antisemitism.

My take-this was an interesting & thought-provoking event, fraught with danger of saying the wrong thing.  He brings up a still very touchy subject for which there are no easy answers.  I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t answer all questions directly & not even insinuate, rather demand, that we buy the book, but Raphael’s willingness to tackle a tough topic is admirable.


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