March 24, 2014 | 1430 views
A trip unlike any other
Most normal students in high school would spend their winter break relaxing and watching mindless television. Fortunately, the five students I shared my winter break with and I are not normal students. For the eight days following Feb. 14, the six of us explored the Jewish history and culture of southern Germany, being educated on what it was like to be a Jew during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. By the end of the trip, we ended up learning more than we thought possible.
Our group was organized through Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, to which we all belong, by Elisabeth Prial. Elisabeth’s parents both escaped the Holocaust, along with other family members. Unfortunately, the Nazis murdered many of her parent’s cousins, aunts and uncles. The student group included Lathan Lev, Shawn Lutz, Sara Lutz, George Cappachioni, Shayna Held and me. Also in the group was our Youth Group Advisor Emily Besthoff, Rabbi Howard Nacht, Elisabeth Heiman Prial, along with her son, Daniel, who spoke fluent German and was able to translate for us.
After a six and a half hour flight, as well as a 6-hour jump in time, we landed at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany. The first three nights of the trip were spent with host families, organized through their school, the Ostalb-Gymnasium, Bopfingen, and all of our programed activities included our German host students.
The first night of the trip was, undebatably, the most significant. The synagogue in the town of Oberdorf had not been used since 1938, when it was damaged during the Kristallnacht Pogrom. Together with more than 100 local residents, we held the first Sabbath evening service in over 75 years lead by Rabbi Howard Nacht. The residents of the town were thrilled to be part of Jewish Culture, as it was something they had never experienced before. Rabbi Nacht read from the Torah that was originally donated to the synagogue in Oberdorf by the Heiman Family in the 1870’s.