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Calling All Students: Send Questions For Schlöndorff Documentary About Our Honorary Member

Dear Students, Azubis, Headmasters and Teachers,

since due to the ongoing pandemic still no public events may take place, including the remembrance day on 27 January 2021 regarding the Liberation of Auschwitz, we are inviting you all to a very special joint project:

On 20 February 2021 our Honorary Member Leon Schwarzbaum will celebrate his 100th birthday.

He not only is one of the last living survivors of the Shoah, but also of the Concentration Camp Auschwitz which has been liberated on 27 January 1945 by the Red Army.

On the occasion of his birthday, an oral history interview will take place, which will be lead by the famous and Oscar-winning director Volker Schlöndorff, who has been born in Wiesbaden.

Leon Schwarzbaum cordially invites you all to ask him questions about his experiences in Auschwitz and the Shoah in general, which will become part of this interview.

We are looking forward to your messages that you can gladly send either as written submission or in the form of short videos to kontakt@jg-michelsberg.com.

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Happy New Year 2021!

Dear members, dear friends, with this little Hanukkah song, sung by two of our youngest members, we wish all a Happy New Year 2021. May good luck and good fortune always be with you!

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The Story of Our Hanukkiah

The Hanukkah-Candelabrum which we intended to kindle on the last day of Hanukkah in front of the Hessischer Landtag (Hessian State Parliament) has been built by the Jewish, Muslim and Christian metal-work apprentices of the Wiesbadener Jugendwerkstatt (Youth Workshop of the City of Wiesbaden).

תודה רבה (Todah Rabah, Thank you very much) from all members of the congregation!

The team of the Wiesbadener Jugendwerkstatt that built our Hanukkiah, with Larissa Deichmann from our board and our Executive Director Andreas Kimmel

Sponsors of the candles would have been members of the Hessian government, the Christian and Muslim Communities and the Jugendwerkstatt.

Unfortunately we had to call off the event due to the hard lockdown that began on 16 December 2020. Even though we had a special permit by the City of Wiesbaden, we have decided to cancel for the safety of everybody involved.

Nonetheless we are hoping very much that the candles of our Hanukkiah will be kindled as a sign of the solidarity of these three world religions every year in front of the Hessische Landtag in Wiesbaden during Hanukkah, beginning in 2021.

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Photo Gallery 2020

The year 2020 C.E. was full of huge challenges for all of us and we are still fighting the biggest one, COVID-19.

Therefore below a small photo gallery of some of the more positive moments of the first (common era) year of our congregation.

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Notice: UPDATE 2 – Hanukkah on 17 Dec 20 at Schlossplatz

Update 17 December: Due to the radically worsening situation in Wiesbaden, we will not erect a Hanukkiah today.

Update 16 December: Due to the current situation, the event below has been cancelled. The Hanukkiah will be erected and kindled without any further celebrations.

We cordially invite you to our Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah 2020 on Thursday, 17 December 2020 from 1800h at the

Schlossplatz in Wiesbaden between Hessischer Landtag (State Parliament Building) and Rathaus (Town Hall)

to collectively light the Hanukkiah together with guests of honor from the fields of politics and culture, with a small supporting program and our Rabbi Dr Walter Rothschild.

We kindly ask for a – gladly informal – message if you intend to participate.

We also kindly request that all guests please wear a face mask during the whole event and adhere to social distancing rules!

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Campaign “Emtpy Shoes” on 10 Nov 2020

If you have been at the Memorial Site on Michelsberg in Wiesbaden on 10 Nov 2020, then you have been able to see half a Star of David, formed by empty shoes.

On 10 Nov 2020 at 0530h – the point in time when the Synagogue on the Michelsberg has been ablaze 82 years ago – we held a vigil to remember the destruction of the Reform Synagogue at the memorial site and to also remember all the Jews that have been murdered during the Shoah in a wreath ceremony.

We stood between the empty shoes to show that the murdered Jewish citizens are no longer here but that they are living on in our hearts, stand on our side in our thoughts and that the manifold Jewish life in Germany has been resurrected. Progressive Judaism is visible again in Wiesbaden.

Our message to the City of Wiesbaden is this: We, the progressive Jews of this city, are back!

We all must not forget the past, but we may not only look back into the sorrowful past but also have to direct our gaze into the future!

Until 09 Nov 1938 at this place, the Reform Synagogue of Wiesbaden had been located, which had been built by the Progressive Jews of this city and was dedicated on 13 Aug 1869. The members of this congregation worked towards adapting the historic religious rituals and rules to the present time and to liberalize and democratize all aspects of Jewish life.

The former Rabbi of this community, Abraham Geiger, was one of the founders of Progressive Judaism as we know it around the world today.

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Notice: Vigil on 10 Nov 20 on Occasion of Destruction of Reform Synagogue

On 10 November 2020 at 0530h – the moment, at which the building was ablaze – we will at the Michelsberg Memorial Site hold a vigil and commemoration event on the occasion of the destruction of the Reform Synagogue 82 years ago.

Destruction of the Reform Synagogue on 10 Nov 1938

Of course all the currently required and due to the circumstances appropriate social distancing and hygiene regulations will be observed.

If you would like to participate, feel free to register with us.

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We Are Officially a “Registered Association” (e.V.) Now

A challenging year 2020 also for our members and us will draw to a close soon, but we do have some good news that are worthy of a short update:

We are officially a registered association (“eingetragener Verein” or e.V.) now and we already have a provisional recognition of our charitable status from the tax authority.

If you do have any questions about our aims, purports or if you are interested in becoming a member, feel free to contact us!

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Yom Kippur 5781 and Sukkot

Dear reader, if you have been visiting our site earlier already: Our article about Yom Kippur was part of the New Year Seder article before, which lead to some misunderstandings, so we now split it in two.

Of course we celebrated Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement in a modern way but in accordance with Jewish traditions. We met in the digital space and that way we have been close despite the physical distance. Also on that day, Batja joined us.

Yom Kippur is a day of fast on which many jews don’t eat for 25 hours – if that does not endanger their health, as health always is more important than these rites and rules.

15 days after the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah and 5 days after Yom Kippur is the beginning of Sukkot (Festival of Shelters). It reminds us of the exodus of our ancestors from Egypt, the long trek through the desert, the sleepovers in makeshift huts.

To symbolise the fugacity of material wealth, Jews build huts under the open sky, wherever there is room for it: In the garden, in the backyard, on the balcony or the terrace.

Notable: Through the roof of the hut (Sukkah) it should be possible to see the stars. In Israel and in other warm countries the Sukkah is the family home for one week for many Jewish families. In colder areas, families meet on the Sukkot days for dinner. Every guest is welcome in the Sukkah as it says in Deuteronomy: “You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, […] the stranger […] in your communities”.

An additional symbol for the festival is the bouquet. It is made of a branch from the date palm, three myrtle and two basket willow branches as well as a citrus fruit, the Etrog. The reason for combining these four plants very likely is the diversity they represent. In the bouquet, those plants are unified. They symbolise the unity of the Jewish people and the mutual responsibility of human beings for each other.

These two symbols of Sukkot are very modern for our Progressive Jewish Congregation Michelsberg.

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New Year Seder

Dear reader, if you have been visiting our site earlier already: This article in a past version also contained our Yom Kippur experience, which lead to some misunderstandings, so we now split it in two.

On the second day of the Rosh Hashanah holiday we had organised a “Seder” (a lunch with special, symbolic food) in a wonderful garden. A member of our congregation, Dr Birgit Klein explained the meanings of the different dishes and their origin. Again, we were very happy that Batja participated, after all it was her first Rosh Hashanah in a Jewish congregation in Germany since 82 years.

The 10 days between the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the highest of the Jewish holidays, are called the 10 Days of Repentance. During these days there is a common rite: Tashlikh (in Hebrew “throw”).

All the negatives are symbolically thrown into flowing water. This starts a spiritual renewal. According to Rabbi Leo Trepp this custom was developed in the Rheinland area (probably around Mainz) and then it was taken over by Jews around the world.

With our Tashlikh on the banks of the Rhine in Biebrich we wanted to remind ourselves and the City of Wiesbaden that Jewish life is existing in Germany since nearly 1700 years, having had an important impact on the development of Judaism around the world. Last not least, Germany is the cradle of Progressive Judaism.

Since the wonderful Reform Synagogue on the Michelsberg is no longer standing, we are constantly looking for a place to meet. Nonetheless, we want to welcome all those who are interested.

We would love to fill in citizens from Wiesbaden, classes as well as religious and other groups about Progressive Judaism, the main differences between the various Jewish movements, Jewish diversity and different possibilities to be Jewish today.