May 23, 2024
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May 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Kaiser Saal im Römer with paintings of German emperors on the walls.

Musical entertainment in the Kaiser Saal.

I cannot express enough thanks to Pfarrer Hoffmann, not only for the time and effort he and his family spent in transporting us to Schmitten and being our guide to all the places I wanted to see, but also for the wonderful and rewarding work he has done over the past 30 or more years, and continues to do, to preserve the Jewish history of the region and to prevent that history from becoming just that, by keeping it alive amongst today’s population of the region.

Angelika Rieber from the Gesellschaft had joined us in Schmitten and accompanied us to all the stops there and then drove us back to Frankfurt. On the way we made another stop in Bad Homburg since I wanted to try to get copies of the photos and descriptions that had been on exhibit in the school in back of where the synagogue once stood. Unfortunately, the gentleman whom I had met during an earlier visit was not there at the moment. I was able to obtain his email address and will follow it up from here.

We returned to the hotel very tired from the full day of activities, but happy and satisfied with what we had seen and learned during our trip to Schmitten.

Wednesday was going to be our last day in Germany before returning to the U.S. with only an evening activity. At 6:30 there was a reception by the municipal authorities in the Imperial Chamber (Kaiser Saal) of the Roemer, the world-famous landmark building housing the city government.

The Imperial Chamber is a huge hall with paintings of all the German emperors around the walls, starting with the year 800 and ending in the middle of the 19th century. (I guess they stopped when they ran out of wall space.)

The program started with a chamber music presentation of a piece by Alexander Borodin and ended with a second presentation. In between, there were speeches by the president of the City Council, chairman of the Jewish Community Council and three representatives from our group, representing the U.S., Israel and Great Britain.

The program concluded with a delicious kosher dinner catered by the Kosher restaurant Sohar.

Various Stadt representatives were present during the ceremonies as well as at the dinner. At our table we had Dr. Gunter Stemmler, the executive assistant to the Oberbürgermeisterin (mayor). We had an interesting conversation about Stadt politics as well as national politics. Both governments are Socialist, and Dr. Stemmler agreed that both are acting as if the money they are handing out to the people comes from some mysterious source, whereas it is nothing but tax money taken from the people and handed back to them after deductions for running the government.

A few days earlier Gabrielle had told us that, although there is no independent kosher-supervision organization for food and restaurants in Germany, as we are used to in the U.S., there is an organization that has published a booklet listing those foods that are considered kosher. The organization is called Orthodoxe Rabbiner Deutschland (ORD) and the publication is authored by Rabbi T. Hod, Rabbiner der Juedischen Gemeinde Mannheim. The booklet is in four languages: German, English, Hebrew and Russian. I was able to copy those parts that a future traveler to Germany would be interested in.

By Norbert Strauss(To be continued next week)

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