Schawuot / 23.05.2015 / 5.Sivan 5775

Zur Schawuotfeier 5575 und damit zur Lernnacht, „tikkun olam“, trifft sich ein Minjan unserer Gemeinde in der Remise in Gatow. Rita heizt sogar den großen Ofen für uns an, denn es ist frisch hier drinnen.  Unsere Kantorin, Jalda, beginnt zu singen und uns wird sofort warm. Wir singen dann alle zusammen den Psalm 122 nach einer Melodie von Shlomo Carlebach. 
Jalda liest die ersten zwei Verse des Psalms vor und wir diskutieren darüber, was uns die besagen. Es heißt:  Es sei zu wünschen, dass Menschen einander im Frieden und im Guten begegnen. Daran knüpft der Wunsch an, dass sie ihre Wirklichkeit heiligen und ein Haus des Einen bauen mögen. Jalda spricht von der Gesetzgebung am Sinai und zitiert aus der Tora. Den Israeliten wurde übermittelt, zu tun und zu hören. Erst tun, bevor sie hörten? Sie schwören, den Mitzwot Folge zu leisten, noch ehe sie sie das erste Mal vernommen hatten. Sie waren immer da und wurden für immer gültig gegeben.
Was könnte diese Reihenfolge: Erst das Tun, dann das Hören bedeuten? Bedeutet das, dass die Tora gegeben wurde und dann alle darum wissen können, was zu tun ist? Nur im guten Handeln  gehorchen sie den Worten. Wir sprechen darüber, dass es bis heute keinen Frieden gibt in der Welt. Schon wie bei den ersten Brüdern Kain und Abel führen Konkurrenzdenken und Neid immer noch zum Brudermord. 
Nachdem uns die Tora am Sinai gegeben wurden, werden von da an Pflanzenopfer und Tieropfer gemeinsam dargebracht. Mit der Tora gibt keinen Grund mehr für Habgier und Gewalt. Wir sind nach der Flucht aus der Enge „Mi zar, und im Plural „Aus den Engen“, „Mizarim“, das ist Ägypten zusammen am Berg Sinai. Jeder für sich und alle zusammen erhalten die Tora. In Freiheit nehmen wir die Tora entgegen.
An dieser Stelle machen wir eine erste Lernpause. Wie gehen nach draußen, atmen die frische Abendluft, sehen Mondsichel und den Planet Venus, im scheinbaren tete a tete am dunklen Firmament schillern und gehen eine geruhsame Runde durch den kleinen Garten der Weltreligionen, durch Ritas Botanicum.  Einige blieben lieber in der Remise und haben liebenswürdigerweise in der Zwischenzeit für alle den Tisch festlich gedeckt. Jede hatte etwas Milchiges für das gemeinsame Essen beigesteuert. Doch nach dem Kiddusch  nehmen  zuerst alle von der Gerstengraupensuppe, die von Etha gestiftet und von Rita für uns angerichtet wurde. Diese Köstlichkeit, mmhh lecker, muss, da bin ich mir sicher, nach der uralten geheimen „Schit-Methode“  entstanden sein, die ging so: „Mer schit in einen Topf a bissl Dies und mer schit a bissl Das und dann mer schit …! 
Schawuot ist nach Pessach das zweite Erntefest im Vegetationsverlauf. Es gibt zu Schawuot richtig viel zu tun auf den Feldern und beim Vieh, das in dieser Zeit seine Jungen geworfen hat. Dann gibt es so viel Milch , die reicht für die Ernährung der Menschen, sodass Jungtiere nicht geschächtet werden müssen und aufgezogen werden können. Es bleibt diesmal keine Zeit, um noch einmal acht Tage lang zu feiern. Mit Schawuot endet das Omerzählen. Es nahm zu Pessach seinen Anfang  und findet nach 49 Tagen, mit der Gesetzgebung am Sinai am fünfzigsten Tag, seinen Abschluss. Die Gesetzesworte sagen uns, wie wir in Freiheit nun in Frieden miteinander leben können. 
Jalda liest weiter: Die Israeliten sahen den Donner vom Berg… So heißt es in der Tora. Es heißt nicht etwa: Sie hörten den Donner? Wir diskutieren diesen Vers und einigen uns in unserem Verständnis darauf, dass es heißen könnte: Die Israeliten sahen, d.h. sie hatten ein Einsehen, eine Einsicht, in die Botschaft, die vom Berg zu ihnen kam. Diese Einsicht in das Wesen der Botschaft geht ohne die akustische Wahrnehmung. Es ist ein inneres Hören. Sie (ge-)horchen. Einsichtige verstehen diese „Sprache“. Schma Israel!      
Wir hören vom Buch Ruth,  von ihrer Nachlese des abgeernteten Feldes für eine Mahlzeit. Wir diskutieren darüber, was den Weg Ruths ausmachte. Sie vertraut auf den Einen und handelt entsprechend. Sie lässt alles zurück, was sie kannte. Im Vertrauen und in Loyalität zu ihrem nächsten Menschen, Naomi, verlässt sie alles Alte und ist bereit, Neuem zu begegnen. 
Wir wissen, dass milchige Speisen zur Schawuottradition gehören und können nun nicht länger den mittlerweile aufgetischten, von Gabi und Rita bereiteten Verführungen, in Form von Windbeuteln und Käsekuchen, widerstehen. 

  
  
                              
Als Gast der Gemeinde ist heute Abend Dr. Ulrike Offenberg, Rabbinatsstudentin, kurz vor dem Abschluss, zu uns gekommen. Sie hat einen Schiur vorbereitet. Darin geht es darum, was in Konfliktsituationen geschehen kann. Sie stellt uns das Thema am Beispiel der beiden in ihren Meinungen differierenden Lehrhäuser Schmaii und Hillel vor, die ca. eine Generation vor der Zerstörung des 2. Tempels bestanden. Anhand verschiedener Textbeispiele aus den Talmudim, aus Tosefta und Mischna und weiteren, können wir verfolgen, was geschieht, wenn mehrere Meinungen herrschen und daraus Zwist entsteht. Wer hat nun Recht? Beide? Oder nur einer? Die Schule Hillels? Warum sie? Weil sie freundlicher und milder urteilte? Oder weil Redaktoren sie absichtlich bevorzugt darstellten? Wenn sich Einigungen scheinbar  doch jedspielend erzielen lassen, ist das nun eine idealisierte Darstellung? Tatsächlich wollteer nur seinen Willen durchsetzen?  Auch, wenn das eine kriegerische Auseinandersetzung zur Folge haben könnte? 
Wir, an diesem Abend, haben die Hoffnung, dass alles sich im Konfliktfall doch noch zum Guten wendet. Beide Meinungen der Lehrhäuser und noch weitere Meinungen wurden uns überliefert. Es gibt nicht nur eine wahre Meinung. Damit schließt sich der gedankliche Kreis bis hin zu den Psalmversen am Anfang des Abends. Die Menschen sind nun selber für den Frieden verantwortlich, denn am Sinai wurden uns die Gebote gegeben, im Guten zu handeln. Sie sind nicht mehr im Himmel,  so wie der Midrasch, den Ulrike uns zum Abschluss erzählt, veranschaulicht. Wir singen dann nochmals am Ende der Lernnacht gemeinsam den Psalm 122 und gehen zwar müde, doch an Leib und Seele reich genährt, dem Sonnenaufgang und dem Gottesdienst entgegen.

                    

                   Text: Deborah Williger            Fotos: Anna Adam 

PFLANTING DAY 5775 / 10.5.2015 / 21. Iyar 5775

There was a chill breeze blowing through the fields of Gutshof Gatow on the Sunday afternoon when the Ohelistas gathered for their annual planting day. Toddlers, teenagers, and adults braved the winds to put seeds and starter plants in the ground and in the raised beds that the congregation built last year. With a little help from some sunshine and rain, we will soon have onions, beets, pumpkins, lettuce, zucchini, carrots, and other vegetables, as well as various herbs and flowers to enjoy.
 
The many helping hands made the planting and watering go quickly so that after only two hours we could all go inside and warm up with some hot soup and other treats. Just as we had finished our refreshments and were ready to head home, the clouds burned off and the sun shone bright and strong. It was a good omen for the new growing season. 

  
  
  
  
                      

Text: Donna Swarthout              Photos: Anna Adam and Donna Swarthout 

Seder 5775 / 4.4.2015 / 15. Nissan 5775

Passover is the festival of liberation from Mitzrayim, from the confines of the slavery and from personal narrowness.
But Passover is also the Jewish family celebration par excellence. Most adults  get bright eyes when they talk about the Passover celebrations of their childhood.
At our Sedertable sat 40 people, including ten children and many guests who also came the years before. Immediately after entering the room, some of the children asked for our "game blanket" and enjoyed the familiar and new toys.
As last year, we used the beautifully illustrated Haggadah by Michael Shire et al. with transliteration. The illustrations are facsimile reproductions of medieval manuscripts of Ashkenazi and Sephardic origin from the collection of the British Library in London.

  

As usual, Cantor Jalda led the reading of the Haggadah with heart and commitment. Almost everybody participated actively in the readings and was moved by the ritual which in its oldest parts is  more than two thousand years old.
During the readings some of the children were crawling around under the long tables. Some of us who still knew Lilith z"ll, looked at each other. And at once we shared the same memory: how happy Lilith was, when she told us of the Seders in her Viennese childhood ,when she crawled around under the table with her numerous cousins. This memory of another era has survived many decades.
Anna and her cooking team gave their best. And their best really is the best there is: everything organic, everything homemade. And Anna is not only an artist when dealing with paints, paper and wood, but also in the kitchen. Especially in the use of exotic spices she is an expert. 

  
                      
           
The afikoman was hidden cleverly. Only after a long search Jacob found it, and we were able to close this festive evening with traditional songs. Naturally Jacob was very proud of his success and he, as well as all other children, got his gift. Somewhat overexcited and exhausted, but very happy, they went home. 

  

We owe a really special end to our Seder festivity to Helen. She drove well after midnight with the leftover food to the Stadtmission at Bahnhof Zoo and told the homeless gathered there in a few words the meaning of Passover: a festival which represents freedom. Then they all ate together. Helens guests were naturally thrilled by Annas cookery. But in addition they were impressed by Helen´s personal gesture to celebrate with them.
This is part of the spirit of Passover, because it says at the beginning of the Passover Haggadah:
"All who suffer shortage, come and celebrate with us ....."
So we had the opportunity to conclude our Seder with Chesed and a contribution to Tikkun Olam.
A big thank-you to all who have helped us in the preparation and implementation of this festive evening. 

Text: Etha Jimenez   Photos: Anna Adam   Translation: Etha Jimenez and Joseph Rebling

Purim 5775 / 4.3.2015 / 13. Adar 5775

Members of Ohel Hachidusch gathered to celebrate Purim with loads of sweet and savory hamentaschen, freshly baked by our little and grown-up experts, happy and rowdy children dressed as pirates and fairies, and Jona Kirchner´s science fiction spin on the Megillah. Cantor Jalda led us in song, the kids enthusiastically shook their noisemakers, and even the adults got into the action. We ended the celebration in traditional Ohel style with a hearty and healthy vegetarian potluck, which we enjoyed with good conversation and lots of laughter around our community table. 

  
 
  
 Text: Donna Swarthout             Photos: Anna Adam

BatMizwa / 24.01.2015 / 4.Schewat 5775

On 4th of Shevat 5775 , Shabbat Bo, Noa was called to read the Torah for the first time and hereby was accepted  into the circle of adults . She read on this Shabbat Mincha the Parasha Beshallach, because Mincha Shabbat we already read the Parasha of the new week.

It was an impressive celebration. Again, as at Mathilda´s Bat Mitzvah, there were three generations standing together on the bimah. Sawta Gaby, ima Mira and Bat Mitzvah Noa read together from the Torah . It was a very touching moment when l´dor va dor - from generation to generation -  the Torah was passed on. For the first time, Noa was wearing  the tallit which her mother had sewn by hand for her. Before the beginning of Shabbat, Cantor Jalda and Anna, the chairwoman of Ohel Hachidusch, jointly tied the Tziziot with Mira and included many good wishes for the future of Noah therein.

  
  

As always, Cantor Jalda led us skilfully and empathically through the ceremony and Anja read the millennia-old Shirat Hajam so touchingly that we all stood at the Red Sea. 

As Cantor Jalda gave Noa her blessing, you could have heard a pin drop. Even the numerous children realized that this was a very special moment and sat quiet as a mouse. And then there were big cheers all around. Noa has become Bat Mitzvah and was celebrated tumultuously with a rain of sweets.

  

The subsequent Havdalah was marked by our feeling of togetherness. We all stood in a circle, and in a moving ceremony Cantor Jalda took us back into everyday life. Shawuah tov!

And in no time at all our room in the restaurant La Luz was transformed: - all were sitting now at  nicely decorated tables, the big stage was free -. Noa´s justly proud father gave a speech in honor of his daughter, a screen was curled up on the big stage, and many snapshots of Noa's life were shown. An Israeli DJ took over the stage; first with songs that Noa's grandmother Gaby had wanted and many sang along. And then it was getting rockier and more colorful. Many danced merrily, - including the children and the elderly. For the Hora hardly anyone stayed sitting on the chairs. Even a few months old baby (on the arm of the mummy) and the nearly 90-year-old Gerhard joined in. Here danced Am Israel, which had crossed the Red Sea and began a life of freedom. -The atmosphere and Noa´s parasha matched perfectly.
Even desert children are hungry. -Our manna was provided by Noa´s  sawta Gaby. Meanwhile, coffee and delicious cakes had already been brought to the tables, of course, all baked by Gaby herself. Soon they were followed by a sumptuous hot and cold buffet, everything cooked  by Gaby. The Jewish Berlin has known and appreciated Gaby's cooking for years, but here she has exceeded herself. How she managed to take care of so many guests as relaxed and competent as she was, remains a mystery. But it has definitely something to do with her love for Noa. For Noa she once again has outgrown herself.  It was a masterpiece and her way of showing her affection.
Dear Gaby and dear Mira, thank you for this unforgettable festival and you, dear Noa, mazel tov for your future. You are a great mischpacha.

                                            

Text: Etha Jimenez  Photos: Anna Adam  
Translation: Etha Jimenez and Joseph Rebling 

Mitzwah Day / 16.11.2014 / 23. cheswan 5775

For Mitzvah Day Ohel Hachidusch hosted a workshop in Gutshof Gatow on a not too well known ecolological problem: contaminated birdfood. Parents and children of the neighborhood were invited to join us.

We prepared birdfood for the feathered and singing creatures who in our latitudes have many problems to find sufficient nourishment in frosty winters. But this was not the only  reason for our engagement: while studying the topic more intensively, we had noticed that in some commercial birdfoods, industrial mineral oils and industrial wastes are utilized. Likewise, with the seeds in this inferior birdfood new plant species  - i.e. Ambrosia - reach Germany which may do great damage to domestic plants, animals and also humans. No sooner said than done: in the warm carriage house of Gutshof Gatow we heated palm oil in a small pan and added ecologically valuable seeds and grains. We let the mixture cool down and stuffed it in opened  pine cones . 

The Mitzvah Day ended with warm faces and hearts and around 50 ecologically valuable stuffed pine cones. To the delight of the children, we hung some of the cones on trees and balconies. The birds love them. And pretty soon we will have to prepare a fresh supply. Some families already asked for the recipe and made their own birdfood. Mission accomplished!

  

 

Text: Claudia Shulamit Frömmel         Photos: Anna Adam
Translation: Etha Jimenez and Joseph Rebling

 

Schabbat Bejt HaChidusch zu Gast bei Ohel HaChidusch / 15.11.2014 / 22. Cheshwan 5775

For many years now it is a great pleasure for me to visit Bejt HaChidusch in Uilenburgshul in Amsterdam / Netherlands. A few steps away my mother was born  more than a hundred years ago. Sometimes I lead services or workshops there; sometimes I just join for Shabbat services when I am in Amsterdam. Rabbi Hannah Nathans, whom I already knew from the Aleph seminar, had the idea to come to Berlin with one of her groups to visit Ohel HaChidusch. Many members of our small community participated in the organization: Sue reserved hotels, Channah took care of the booking of restaurants. Angela, Channah, Helen and Anna hosted those members of the group, who preferred private accommodation.
Rabbi Hannah Nathans and myself prepared an extensive program:
Kabbalat Shabbat in Fasanenstrasse; Shabbat at Ohel HaChidusch in Detmolder 
Strasse; Sunday at Centrum Judaicum and a guided tour through Berlin´s historical center and finally a visit to the Jewish Museum Berlin.
One highlight of the visit was the Shabbat at Ohel HaChidusch. Following a very moving Shakharit service, there was a lively exchange of experiences during kiddush. Later on, rabbi Hannah gave  a shiur on the subject: " Is animal research allowed? What does our tradition say?" We studied rabbinical and scientific texts followed by an exciting discussion afterwards. After a coffee break, I gave a shiur on the subject: "Tora of the Imahot". In the context of parashah Chaje Sarah we had an intensive, sometimes quite controversial discussion.
After Havdalah all of us were grateful and glad about this meeting. We studied together and learned from each other, ate well and all of us expressed the desire to repeat such
 meetings, whether in Amsterdam or Berlin.

  
  

On Sunday I met the group in front of the Centrum Judaicum and gave a very personal tour of the center of Berlin with old and new stories from this area.
Thank you, Reb Hannah, for this beautiful idea. Come back soon to Berlin. You are
 always welcome to join us. The experience with you and Bejt HaChidusch means a lot to us. 
Your very personal thank-you note to all of us has been particularly touching, which is why  I include it here:
 
Shalom Jalda and Ohelista’s,
On behalf of our whole group I would like to thank you whith all my heart for your hospitality. It was a great experience for our participants. You made it possible that the whole group could come along by offering your beds. The food was excellent, and eco kosher. The restaurants you reserved for us were just right. The group was greatly impressed by your service, and does hope we can have more of this in BHC. The shiur by Jalda on the Torah of the   imahot was found very interesting. The tour through Jewish Berlin, guided by Jalda, left an indelible impression. It was a most wonderful weekend.
I realise how much work this has been for you. Toda raba for everything!!!! And rav berachot on your kehilla. We hope to meet again soon!

Lehitraot, Rabbi Hannah

Text: Chasan Jalda Rebling  Photos: Anna Adam
Translation: Etha Jimenez and Joseph Rebling

Sukkot / 8.10.2014 / 14. Tischri 5775

The afternoon before the 14th of Tischri 5775, Erev Sukkot, we met to build our Sukkah at Gutshof Gatow.

Like every year, parents and children built the sukkah, under expert guidance of Anna.
At the same time,  a second group of us went on our field with a handcart to reap the fruits of last season.The children came back with abundant harvest, enough to decorate the sukkah and to prepare the Sukkot festival soup.

On the farm the sukkah was decorated and completed while the freshly harvested vegetables from many busy helpers were washed, cleaned and prepared for our soup.

Then Rita sparked the fire. Now the soup could cook.

Every year on Tu B'Shvat our children are planting pumpkin seeds from last year's harvest in a flower pot. Some months later at Sukkot the pumpkin is harvested in the Botanicum by our children.

After all extensive preparations it was time for  Kiddush.
And every year exactly at this moment it starts raining. Our Sukkot-prayers for rain are fulfilled on the spot. So we are happy and grateful about it. But since we want to stay healthy, we moved to celebrate in the cozy carriage house. There we enjoyed the delicious, freshly cooked soup  and all the culinary delights brought along.

It was, as always, the most beautiful sukkah we've ever had.

Thanks to the great hospitality of  Rita and Uli we celebrated an unforgettable, turbulent and happy Sukkot with about 50 adults and children.

Later in the evening the sky ripped open and we admired the big full moon shining into our sukkah.

During the following days of Sukkot week, some of us went to Gatow with friends to sit in the sukkah and remember Am Israel wandering in the desert thousands of years ago and  up to today.



   
   
  

Text: Marlis Ventur    Photos: Anna Adam
Translation: Etha Jimenez and Joseph Rebling