Friday, August 10, 2007

Berlin is (not) Jerusalem

Another rant, I'm afraid. Not content with replacing life in Israel with life in Berlin (or anywhere else for that matter, but in this case it is Berlin), the Orthodox have taken a leaf out of the classic Reform text book. Remember how over 100 years ago the Reform movement removed any mention of Israel and Jerusalem from the siddur. They felt that Germany was home to them much more than some distant land and ancient memory. Well, antisemitism and the holocaust don't seem to have changed some people's understanding of the situation. Berlin (apparently) is still the site of the Temple. One Shul in Berlin has gone one step better than removing Israel. YNet reports that they've brought its heart to Germany! Read it and weep (literally).

Berlin Jewish Center builds replica of Western Wall

Germany’s new $8.2 million Jewish community center will feature a replica of Jerusalem’s Western Wall - accurate down to the plants sprouting from it, the center’s leaders said.

The 100-square-meter replica will be part of Szloma Albam House, whose opening Sept. 2 will provide another sign of the growth and vitality of Berlin’s 12,000-member Jewish community.

”This is a symbolic part of making Berlin a central hub of Jewish life again,” the center’s executive director, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal told the Associated Press on

The project began when a team from the Chabad-Lubavitch organization traveled to Jerusalem to photograph a section of the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, famous for the tradition of inserting tiny prayers on paper into its many cracks.

Almost 19 tons of “Jerusalem Gold” sandstone quarried in the region arrived in Berlin on July 11, and has since been chiseled and installed to match the photographs.

The complete replica, located in the center’s entryway, will also include identical plants sprouting from the cracks.

The Western Wall replica is not meant to be used for worship, but as a symbol and reminder of the center’s mission.

Teichtal told the AP that the center’s architecture directly reflects center’s philosophy. A large cobalt and light blue glass window greets visitors as a symbol of transparency. The sleek, contemporary design by Russian architect Sergei Tchoban, shows that Szloma Albam House is focused on the future.

”Within the transparency is tradition, and that’s why we’re building the wall,” he told The Associated Press. ”It’s the strongest symbol of the survival of the Jewish people.”

Focused on the future is right. I just hope it is not the same as the future that the Meshech Chochma saw for German Jews all those years ago:

"This is the way of our people, that when they enter a foreign land they are bereft of Torah scholars from the trials and travails of persecution and expulsion, but then the G-dly spirit awakens within them to return to their roots. They learn, teach Torah, do wonders, until the glory of Torah is restored... Soon they begin to say our forefathers have given us falsehood, as they forget their origins and become as full citizens, abandoning the teachings of their faith, learning foreign languages, learning from 'kilul' and not 'tikkun', thinking Berlin is Yerushalayim... Then a storm will arise to rip them from their roots..."

(taken from divrei chaim)

Please, let's not lose our heads or our heart!

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