Jewish Berlin

The Germany Close Up group pauses by the Binnenalster for a quick photo before continuing on the tour. 
All good things must come to an end, including our wonderful GCU trip. As the group reflected on the week past and all we learned, we said goodbye to Shabbat and looked ahead to the week beginning with a brief Havdalah service in the GCU headquarters in Berlin.
The Germany Close Up group was welcomed to the Fraenkelufer Synagogue, a 101-year-old synagogue in Berlin. It was the first congregation in Berlin to re-open after the war, with Erev Rosh Hashanah services taking place in 1946. A few years ago, the synagogue didn’t have enough people to create a minyan; but on this night, the sanctuary was full of locals and visitors alike. At dinner, we had a chance to get to know one another, share a bit about our respective communities, sing and break bread. It was an amazing opportunity to celebrate being Jewish in Berlin, and we were reminded that this public display of Judaism wasn’t safe in the not-so-recent past. Trip participant Alyah Al-Azem said, “It moved me to tears watching, listening and participating in Shabbat services in a place where Jews were never supposed to return.”