Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Synagogue in Frankfurt-Thoughts

Reporting from Darmstadt (where my conference is), after about 2 days in Frankfurt. I didn't actually go to any exhibits or any death/concentration camps (the camps are all pretty far to the east and I had no extra travel time) but in Frankfurt (I was in a historically Jewish area of the city with a still-active synagogue, I davened there yesterday [but I wasn't fully shomer Shabbat, of course, chas v'shalom I should miss a day of tourism, especially since I sadly managed to sleep through a bunch of Friday.]) There were a lot of plaques in the sidewalk saying "Here lived [name of Jews], deported to [insert name of ghetto/death camp] in [year], murdered in [possibly different death camp] [year]" and I guess those hit home pretty hard. And the Jewish names were not even identifiable as Jewish, the first names were 100% German As for the synagogue, I'd gotten the impression it would be a Chabad affair, but it was actually a legit old German synagogue (from 1908), that had (to a significant extent) survived the Shoah. Oh, and Shabbat morning the chazzan had a legit chazzan hat (you know like this guy and while the primary siddur present used a (pre-Artscroll, with comments on what to do in Yiddish, and the actual siddur printed in New York) version of Siddur Kol Yaakov (some people had newer siddurs with German translations and the Prayer for the State of Israel/IDF in them, both of which were recited) and they I think did their best to do old German traditions; for instance, they did Shir Hakavod (Anim Zemirot) BEFORE the Torah reading instead of at the end of Musaf. Anyway, very glad I went even though I was too shy to try to talk to anyone [there were a few Israeli expats who I could've probably talked to if I kept it simple even if nobody there spoke English well], or at least anyone except the Israeli security guard [there was also a seemingly permanent police post right next door, I guess they sadly need it all year round]) who I was able to pretty easily convince I was a Jew by starting out with him in Hebrew till he got impatient (like all Israelis!) and had me switch to English ...