Hello friends and family of my new found friends! Shockingly, it is already Thursday (I would include the time but that’s different for you and me and thus would make it kind of confusing) and so, sadly, we only have a few more days in Deutschland. Our time here to date has been full of delightful, interesting, and meaningful experiences. Let’s recap.
We have two guides- Richard and Kaleen. They’re exceptional people and very knowledgeable about everything we see. Perhaps more importantly, they make sure we’re always on time for the next activity. Sometimes this entails scurrying across tram tracks but, most of the time, it doesn’t. Also, Melissa is joining us. She’s good at counting, which is important because sometimes we like to wander and losing a student would be bad.
As for our actual activities they have been varied and full. Our first day was named “Space and Time in Berlin”. Unfortunately, we didn’t go to space but we did have a fantastic walking (mostly standing) tour during which we learned about our neighborhood: Jewish Berlin Mitte. We also zoomed through the German Historical Museum AND did a bus tour of the city. It was CRAZY but mostly just really busy. The sights were real, they were cool, and the bus was comfy. Many tried to stay awake for the duration and, though I tried my hardest, I was not among them.
We’ve also done a whole lot more and If I listed every activity we’d never leave (and, more importantly, I’ll never get to sleep on this train). So let’s go ludacris speed. We’ve visited the Holocaust Memorial and a Concentration Camp (look for another post on that from my esteemed colleague Diane), spent a day in Dresden exploring the sights, and another day in Dresden talking a bit about the political situation and exploring an old Stasi jail.
It has been an absolute whirlwind. Full of great information, new friends (I’m looking at you… everyone), and .5 liter steins of beer. Germany has not failed to impress. Of course, we have also spent much of our time discussing Germany’s past, how Jewish society in Germany has changed and developed, and how we feel and can relate to different events and realities.
Oh, and of course I have to mention the food. They are feeding us exceptionally well. Dare I say even: terrifically well. Steak and gnocchi and strudel, oh my! Their pork knuckle even comes with the skin, tendons, and bone. That’s what I call value (and an extremely troublesome psychological barrier)! Anyways, we’re doing great, we’re learning lots, and no one has yet fallen in the river. Go hoos!
- Zach Diamond
Class of 2017
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,800 Jewish students on Grounds.