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As Jews who were leaving our secure little niche in Bozeman, Montana to sample life in Germany, we received mixed reactions from friends and family.  “Germany, why in the world would you want to move there?” was the common query.  But we had many reasons and a suitcase full of questions for which we sought answers.  We were convinced that this experience would somehow shed light on our own identities in a way that armchair conversations and the best books and films could not. I couldn’t have agreed more with one Jewish American writer whose recent blog post was titled: “Jews and Germany: Why You Should Go Even If It Makes Your Grandma Angry.” (www.jewcy.com)

In my case it was my mother who was angry and didn’t even want me to give Germans the satisfaction of speaking their language in spite of my somewhat proficient ability with it. This argument brought back memories of my childhood exposure to the feelings and attitudes of my immigrant grandparents. Both my parents had fled Germany in the late 1930s and grew up in New York City.  As a child I remember that Papa Gus and Nana Irma never wanted to speak German or be reminded of their homeland while Papa Eddy and Nana Ilse loved to sing German songs and share their cultural heritage with my sister and I. In the 1970s Papa Eddy and Nana Ilse took the ultimate step to reunite with their culture and moved back to Germany.  Were they the only Germans to have done this, especially after attaining their prized American citizenship?  I have always wondered about the incidence of German Jews returning to Germany after the Holocaust.

Thanks to encouragement from my friend Diana, I started this blog to document my own process of personal discovery about Jews and Germany. How many are there, where do they come from, are they very religious, or of a more secular variety, and how do they feel living as Jews on soil once dominated by the Nazis? Many writers have documented the wave of Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union that corresponded with the empire’s collapse, but are Jews coming to Germany from other parts of the world as well? Since Germany is now home to more than 200,000 Jews, is it time for some of us to acknowledge that Jews can have a positive experience in Germany and seek to understand that experience? I am especially interested in reaching out to American Jews about the nature of Jewish life in Germany and plan to further explore this topic on my blog.  More to come……