Review of Germany Education Mission
Overall Assessment: The participants at the end of the Berlin mission provided constructive feedback in order to make the trip better for the next year. After further discussion the group said it would be a great annual event to get people involved with the organization and understand the history as to how it even got started. The organizations (Fraenkenlufer Synagogue, JDC, IsraAID, and Chabad) that we met were great at welcoming the group and showing the diverse culture within the community of Berlin. There was also enough time for the group to bond and actually have a vacation within the programing. Here is our daily day by day blog below…
The trip got off to a slow start with some flight delays but then we made it to awesome Heidelberg. The city is a great spot to see a different side of Germany as opposed to the entire trip being in Berlin. There was history on a personal level for Ben here being that he grew up here in his teenage years and it was easy to sell the idea to anyone on the trip. Sadly, the rain really put a damper on the trip’s initial day but everyone was total fine with it. The group then drove to Fulda to check out the city where Ben was born.
The second day involved learning about history of Fulda as well as the Jewish Community that lives there. We were met by Roman Melamed who was the director of the Fulda Jewish Community. Roman and his staff greeted us with open arms and told us the story of the 400+ members of the community. Their community center was small but they were so energetic about having visitors and we look forward to seeing them in the future.
Our group then ventured to the OP-Alpha museum where the east/west German border used to be and it displayed what it was like to be soldier in Fulda. The group really had a glimpse with the tension in the area and so close to the city of Fulda. A short walking tour around and lunch ended the the southern portion of the trip.
The Berlin portion of the trip began with a tour of Sachsenhausen Camp in the north of Berlin with Dekel Peretz, a PHD student who specializes in Germany/Jewish history. He was very informative and ensured the group had the backstory of the camp they needed. Our group then headed to track 17 which was an emotional time for everyone. Track 17 was the train line where Jews left Berlin and never returned, ironically the track is in a affluent neighborhood of Berlin.
The day ended on a high note with our group going to Fraenkenlufer Synagogue to meet the congregation. This group was simply amazing and the Synagogue nestled in the heart of the turkish neighborhoods of NeuKoln and our nonprofit sponsored the meal for the evening. It was a very long day for everyone with tough truths to swallow but truly rewarding for all in regards to how far the city has come with a new thriving community.
Our group was physically and mentally drained and it was great to have a day off to just relax and enjoy Berlin as tourist that day. We walked around Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie as well as shopping. The group then went out together and got to see some of the nightlife. The Sunday was more much the same and just relaxing as a group.
The group met with various organizations throughout the city which included Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Chabad, and IsraAID. The groups were dynamic and unique in their own right. Each organization had a different take on living and working in Berlin and German Government.
This day was a break in schedule simply due to conflicts with the tech startup organization we were supposed to meet. Our group made the best out of the time and biked throughout the city. We visited the Jewish museum and rode over to the eastside galleria where the wall stood.
We met with the Tech Startup VC Accelerator called Hubraum with Ralph Riecke. Ralph gave the group an overview of the Tech scene in Berlin. He also gave insight on the Israeli influence in the space due to his investments in the Tel Aviv tech world. The talk was insightful and really was a great way to end the trip.
Final Statement: The overall intent of the trip was to give people a unique and inside experience to see why the organization Fulda Foundation exist. I personally feel we accomplished this and much more. The organizations we established relationships with could not be happier that they were able to display what they are all about.
We look forward to making this grow and seeing where this adventure leads we call Fulda Foundation. Thanks again to all our friends and family who continue to support this and give people experiences they might not have known were out there. I am excited as to what the future holds for us as friends and the organization as a whole.