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With one of Berlin’s newest voters in tow, we headed to the polls today to help elect Germany’s 19th Bundestag. We were divided over the liberal parties and candidates on the ballot, but a much stronger force united us to vote against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Merkel’s fourth term as chancellor may have been a foregone conclusion, but a huge motivating factor that drove us to vote was the chance to weaken a hateful party that campaigned with slogans like “we’re for bikinis not burkas” and “new Germans: we make them ourselves.”

Voting in my third German election at the start of the Jewish New Year once again affirmed my sense of belonging here. I trust Merkel to try harder than her abominable U.S. counterpart to meet the promise of democratic ideals. Although I’m horrified at the prospect of the AfD entering the Bundestag, I know that the vast majority of voters will have made a wiser choice.

This morning we awoke to the familiar gray skies and rain of the turning season, but the day felt anything but gloomy. Perhaps it was the Kenyans and Ethiopians who dominated the Berlin marathon (and almost broke the world record) that boosted my optimism about Germany’s future. Or maybe it was the now familiar sight of our fellow Berliners happily picking up a grilled bratwurst on their way out from our local polling place.

The Bundestag elections also come at a time when I’ve reached agreement with a local publisher on the terms of a contract for my book on restored German citizenship. I don’t yet have the contract in hand so I’ll hold off on saying more for the moment. There are many reasons why reclaimed German citizenship makes sense for families that were persecuted under the Third Reich, and I hope there are just as many reasons why the time is right for this book.

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