I often think of the big canvas bag that I left with my friend Lyn just days ahead of our departure from Berlin. Packed with things I don’t really need, it sits in her closet as a symbol of my desire to return. Besides my “Koffer,” a part of my heart and soul are still in Berlin. At least I’ve still got my German citizenship and a bank account there too. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to walk around the Schlachtensee or visit the Turkish market in Kreuzberg again, but I hope it will be soon. I’m biding my time by studying German, hunting through the grocery stores of Bozeman for dark whole grain bread, and immersing myself in a hectic semester of teaching at Montana State.
I’m also looking forward to sharing my experiences with Americans who have an interest in modern Germany. My Montana Humanities program Germany’s Efforts to Confront the Legacy of the Holocaust is now available for groups in Montana and I’m making contact with Holocaust Education Centers to offer presentations on Jewish life in Germany today. With some of the recent tumultuous events in Germany, such as a regional court ruling against circumcision and the attack on a rabbi in our former district of Berlin, now is an especially important time for education and dialogue. While I’m disturbed by these events, they in no way diminish the significance of our German Jewish experiences or my commitment to chisel away at American attitudes that resist the reality of a changed Germany.