Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

I am happy to be posting, finally, starting with these wonderful photos I found, while looking on this computer for the famous photo of Lani at Hermann’s grave in Berlin in 2007 (which Lani or I will post next.) I love this documentation of Dan & Walt in NYC in summer of 2005, showing just how hard at work my journalist brothers have been tracing our roots and Helga’s journey.

This was a great exhibit, "Starting Over: The Expeience of German Jews in America" that coincided with our family reunion on Long Island, a few months after Helga’s death, with Sandy, Mel, Marsha.






It is just so striking to me that Dan’s brilliant inquiry, fact-finding, mapping and documentation has been produced in one short week and has happened during the Passover season. As we gathered for our alternative Seder via Skype last Friday, I did say something muddled about how cool it is that we, on this Pesach, are coming out of our 'narrows' -- the reference for Mitzrayim (Egypt). What I was referring to was the realization we had last week - that we are eligible to become German citizens, and thus EU citizens, which truly opens us, and our children, to new possibilities. We can choose to leave our ‘narrows’.

What I forgot to say on Friday, is that mom’s escape from her ‘narrows’, her oppression, quite amazingly, ended in NY during Pesach 1941, 71 years ago. Dan’s accounting today reminds me that mom attended a Seder on Ellis Island before they shipped off again to their next port, Havana, in May. I can hear her telling me just how much that Seder meant to her, but now as I read these accounts from the NY Times, it all becomes so much more meaningful.

So like Walter, I feel the power of the Sheh heh cheh yanu -- the prayer that applies to us right now in this time and this place of our lives as we consider our heroines’ escape and as we ponder our potential participation in a new culture/ society:

Baruch ata ‘’ Eloheynu ru-ach ha-olam

Sheh-heh-cheh-yanu v-ki-y’manu v-higi-anu la-z’man ha-zeh

We bless the Source of life and strength, majesty of the universe,

that we are alive, and that we thrive, and that we have arrived at this very moment.

The other remarkable fact about time and place, or wonderful karma, is that Bill & I happen to be ticketed to fly to Lisbon in July. This wasn’t deliberate. It was one of a few European cities that we could fly into using United Frequent Flyer miles this summer. We are heading to a lovely seaside vacation with Hans & Carrie in Brittany, and are just now planning our route, Portugal through Spain to France. As Dan has documented on this cool map, I will be taking Elly & Helga’s route in reverse. Thank you, Dan, for giving me all this, and making my visit to Lisbon so much richer.

Walter and I are pretty sure we need you at the International Jewish Geneology conference in Paris July 15, so I hope to see you on the continent!

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