Jewish in Germany: Genesis

Would you have thought that American Jews and German non-Jews have similar ideas about the Jewish people? I know it sounds very unlikely, but just set out on a little experiment and introduce them to a German Jew.

– “A WHAT?”
There you go.

Upon meeting a creature like that, both groups are completely stunned. But to do them justice, I must concede that their reactions slightly diverge. While American Jews stare at you when they hear the word “Germany,” German non-Jews only get perplexed at the mention of the word “jüdisch.”

Yet what about that strange creature herself, that so called German Jew? How does she feel in a moment like this? Sensing the other person’s confusion, she begins to feel very awkward, thinking angrily, “This is who I am. I can’t change anything about that. Nor can I change where I was born.” She longs to be thought of as normal and not as a dinosaur that has just stepped out of the jungle.

So why do American Jews and German Gentiles consider her an anachronistic joke? Does the Holocaust overshadow the life of Jews in present-day Germany so much that no one is aware of their existence? It certainly does, and whenever she recalls what was destroyed in those years, she would love to jump onto the next plane and join those American Jews over there.

Besides it is not only the past that worries her; hardly a week passes without slanders directed at her people.

But despite all, Germany is also her home country. Her family lives there and her parents speak no language other than German. She grew up with the Central European heritage and strongly prefers Beethoven’s music to that of Sarit Hadad.

It would also be a gross exaggeration to claim that her life consists only of fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Most of the time she tries to make sense of all those Russian words surrounding her, explains to people that being religious does not automatically entail being a crazy fundamentalist, and seeks refuge with Philip Roth and his alter egos.

In this blog she will share her thoughts and experiences with you to introduce you to the panorama of Jewish life in Germany. She hopes to show you that Jews in Germany are real people with real hopes and worries that go beyond the Holocaust. Above all they are alive.

About the Author
Nadine Grzeszick was born in a small German town in 1987. Over the last 10 years, she has been struggling with the question of how to reconcile her Jewish identity with living in Germany. Her blog explores the difficult as well as the hilarious sides of Jewish life in her native country. Nadine is a journalist, who has recently graduated in English literature.