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Pastor Gen - Thoughts From a Sabbatical #2

Updated: Sep 4

Here are some thoughts from the experience of Berlin:

1. History of the “crimes” of our national past can be told with clarity and truth and the nation will be stronger for it.

2. The arts of all kinds, music, dance, painting, and lots of photography are essential to working out the reality of past “crimes.”

3. Most everyone in the service industry speaks at least 3 languages. It is like watching and listening to something of a God power — they switch between the languages, understanding the person who may only understand one of the languages. It’s fun to watch and listen.

4. I got to talk with a cab driver and a security officer about their experiences of racism in Berlin. One person is of Arab heritage and the other of American Black heritage. They said they have never experienced being pulled over by police for the color of their skin. I asked about guns. They both told me that people can get guns in Germany but there are very strict regulations making it very hard to get guns. If people have guns from another country, they cannot bring them into Germany. The security officer thought that Germany is better at dealing with racism because it is much smaller than the US.

5. While both of the men I talked to said that racism wasn’t too bad in Berlin, each of the Jewish settings I visited, museums and synagogue had lots of security and metal detectors.


I have three favorite experiences from this time in the capital city:

1. The Silence Room at the Brandenburg Gate was just a circle of black plastic chairs with an earth tones textile image on one wall. This interfaith project is led by volunteers to give people a way to quiet in the busy city. It was great.

2. The story of the “eternal light” that was over the Torah area on the day the large synagogue was set on fire by Nazis. One of the people in that was part of the violence alerted the fire department and help to save some of the structure. What is more, when the leaders of the congregation could enter the building again, the "eternal light” an oil lamp that hung above the Torah was still lit. They saw this light as a miracle.

3. The Jewish Museum I visited on my last day was the most amazing of all. Every art was used to give an experience of life before, during, and after the Holocaust. Music, light, stories, movement, sculpture, every art I can imagine was there. No photos allowed, sorry. It was amazing!


All peace and good to all the friends and members of Veradale UCC!

Pastor Gen

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