Through the rebirth of the Jewish Congregation at Michelsberg, Progressive Judaism is visible again in Wiesbaden – and we have celebrated our first Jewish New Year with a lot of political support!
Our congregation is member of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, the biggest Jewish movement in the world with 1.8 million members in over 50 countries right now.
We have decided to celebrate Rosh Hashanah outdoors in the Taunus mountains to allow meeting social distancing rules and to not endanger each other in a closed room. The municipality of Hohenstein has supported us very much during the organisation. Even the mayor of the Town of Hohenstein, Daniel Bauer, has been marking the holiday together with us. Also, we are very thankful that the Local Health Authority in Bad Schwalbach has helped us with many tips during the creation of the hygiene and infection protection concept.
The Jewish Congregation Michelsberg has been celebrating the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah with a festive community dinner. With the festivities having been shaped by Rabbi Dr Walter Rothschild, 75 members of the congregation and guests have been celebrating the beginning of the Jewish year 5781.
Many political guests, like the former mayor of the City of Wiesbaden, Achim Exner and the Members of the Bundestag Martin Rabanus and Klaus-Peter Wilsch have welcomed the rebirth of our Progressive Jewish Congregation in the region with impressive and warm addresses. The private conversations with the various politicians during the evening gave us hope that the Progressive Jews of the City of Wiesbaden and in the region will be given space and political support to live Jewish traditions according to progressive views and to further pursue the achievements of the Progressive Jews that have been living in Wiesbaden before 1938. Even if the Reform Synagogue at Michelsberg is no longer existing, the Progressive Jews of the city are back.
On each table there was a copy of the official letter of the Israeli Diaspora Minister Omer Yankelevich that was addressed to our congregation and in which he was wishing us Shanah Tova (a Happy New Year) in the name of the State of Israel, as well as thanking us for the continued presence of our community in Germany. When reading this letter, some of our more senior members could hardly hold back their tears. Being survivors of the Shoah, they came to Germany very intentionally to ensure that there will be a diverse Jewish live in this country again and also to carry on the traditions of progressive Judaism.
We have been very happy that we also had non-Jewish guests celebrating with us. The more open we are, the more we know about each other, the more frequently we celebrate together, the less prejudices there are and the less chances antisemitism has in this country.
The past year has been especially important for our congregation. Approximately one year ago, on the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the Reform Synagogue at Michelsberg in Wiesbaden, we had decided to rebuild an additional Jewish Congregation in Wiesbaden – a Progressive Jewish Congregation Michelsberg. This was necessary because the existing Jewish Congregation in Friedrichstrasse caters exclusively for the Jewish-Orthodox perspective and it’s rites and traditions. We found it regrettable that in the city where Abraham Geiger was Rabbi, Progressive Judaism was practically invisible since the time of the Shoah. Abraham Geiger was one of the first and foremost representatives of Reform Judaism in Germany. His name is carried by the first Rabbinical College having been founded in Germany after the Shoah.
Therefore, with the rebirth of our Progressive Jewish Congregation we want to tie in with the progressive tradition of the prewar times and again share our modern Jewish life with the city. With the Jewish High Holidays, we have made a good start.