Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Here’s a headline that had me scratching my head: “Three Orthodox Rabbis Ordained in Berlin after 80-Year Interruption.” I mean, I get that the last time a rabbi was ordained in Berlin had to be sometime around Hitler’s rise to power, may his name and memory be erased. And the opening lines of the article tell us that this is exactly the case:
The Nazis shut down Berlin’s Jewish seminary in 1938, and since then not a single Orthodox rabbi has been ordained in the German capital – until today, when three graduates of the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary: Alexander Kahanovsky, Shraga Yaakov Ponomarov and Shlomo Sajatz, were ordained in a historic ceremony, Deutsche Welle reported.
What I don’t understand is why there is a value to revitalizing Jewish communities in Europe, and in particular, in Germany. Germany wins the prize for worst ever host of the Jewish people, having gassed over 6 million of us. Why would we want to give them a second chance, or worse yet, a do-over?
What is the purpose of ordaining rabbis in Germany? What is the point of building synagogues or Jewish schools there? Why insist on reviving the Jewish community, or bringing Jewish culture to this place?
Why would anyone try to be a Jew in Germany after what they did to us?
I don’t get it. First of all, it seems spectacularly stupid. You didn’t get the message the first time around?
And anyway: why would you want to be in a place haunted by so many ghosts?
Why do you want to be where people hate you so much they gassed 6 million of your people? Do you think there’s some kind of courage involved in setting up (Jewish) shop there once more, so you’re just going to dig in your heels? You’re the guest no one wants. The guest who refuses to leave when the party’s OVER. (And you came back?!)
Here’s the part where you tell me: but it’s not regular Germans who are responsible for antisemitism. It’s all about the influx of Muslim immigrants. Not a terror attack happens that doesn’t begin with someone yelling “Allahu Akbar.”
But a poll published in May tells us in 2016, 40% of modern Germans (and not immigrants) hold antisemitic views, an increase of 28% from the previous poll in 2014.
Also, we need to think WHY Germany, and Europe in general, is teeming with antisemitic immigrants: the answer is they come to you precisely because they know you are birds of a feather. They hate Jews, YOU hate Jews. (“You” being Germany/Europe.) They know you gassed the Jews. This, they admire.
In spite of the pretend repentance, we know for a fact, thanks, for instance to Tuvia Tenenbom, that overwhelmingly, funding for Israel’s enemies comes from (you guessed it) Germany. Muslim antisemites fit right into your zeitgeist, your milieu. It’s a comfortable place for them. Germans share their values and their hate.
German Jew-hatred is as prevalent as it always was. It just wears it differently. Back in the 80s, Israeli psychoanalyst Zvi Rex said that, “The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” Germans tend to feel that Jews hold the past over their heads, exploiting the Holocaust to make Germans feel guilty. We Jews don’t let Germans move forward, move past the Holocaust. We don’t let them heal. This irritates Germans, giving them license to hate us (as if they needed permission), even if they use Israel’s imagined crimes as the pretext.
What about the Germans who swear they’re ashamed of their history? Let me tell you: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Today’s German people have Nazis in their past. There’s no doubt that a vast number of contemporary Germans were raised to hate Jews. And even if you pride yourself on being open-minded, even if you feel somewhat guilty or soiled by what your grandparents or parents did, some of the antisemitic rhetoric heard at Mutter’s breast, is bound to sink in, to stick.  
How different is the Germany of today compared to the last time a rabbi was ordained in Berlin, in 1938?
The answer is that for all the lip service we pay to “Never Again,” it’s not. Not with 40% of the German population agreeing with this statement: “Based on Israel’s policies, I can understand people having something against the Jews.”
I’ll admit it: I am lucky. I did not have to go through the horrors of the Holocaust. So I don’t know what it was like for German Jews who survived. Perhaps they wanted to cling to the little bit of familiarity left to them after all they experienced. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing a resurgence of the Jewish community there.
But me? My stomach turns at the sight of a German or on hearing a German accent. It gives me cognitive dissonance for me to imagine anyone doing CPR on the dead—nay MURDERED—Jewish community of Berlin. It is a place from which Jews should distance themselves forevermore.
We Jews went to Germany only because we were expelled from our own land: Israel, and forced to wander. Forty percent of the German population has made it abundantly clear that Germany does not want us. So stop trying to be rabbis there. Stop building schools and creating organizations. Stop condemning the way they treat you there, every time they target you.
Instead, use your Yiddishe kop to get the heck out of there. Keep your goodwill and your burning Jewish spirit, yes! Ordain many, many rabbis.
But not there.
Leave Germany, leave France, where the Yellow Vests hung a banner reading, “Macron is a whore of the Jews,” and invited followers to a Chabad Chanuka celebration saying, "The Jewish people celebrate while the French have nothing to eat."
Leave also Belgium, where soccer fans sang the following lyrics in August:
“My father was part of a commando / my mother was SS / and together they burned Jews / because the Jews burn the best.”

Leave England, where the rise of Corbyn looms, and where a soccer fan only last week called for “gassing Jews” during a match.
Leave all these places before the gates close shut, as they have so many times before.
Learn from Dorothy, who famously said, “There’s no place like home.”
Come to Israel. Build your own land. Create new institutions, organizations, and schools in Israel. Contribute to its culture.
Why be the guest who refuses to leave?
Dorothy had to click her heels three times. All you have to do is hop on a plane.


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