N E W S
Ramat Gan gets a Weinheim street
Albrecht and Ulrike Lohrbächer are bringing news from their trip to Israel.
WNOZ April 22, 2022
Exchange between Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen (left) and Albrecht Lohrbächer
Weinheim/Ramat Gan. The partnership between Weinheim and Ramat Gan has officially existed since 1999. This soon will be reflected also in the city maps. "A few days ago, the Ramat Gan municipal council voted in favor of a Weinheim street. It is to be built in a new development area," reported Albrecht Lohrbächer during a conversation with the Weinheimer Nachrichten editorial staff after his return from Israel, where he had been on the road with his wife Ulrike for eleven days to revive old contacts and to close new ties in Ramat Gan.
During the visit, it also came to a first-time personal meeting with Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen, who has been heading the city administration since 2018. "The mayor showed great interest in Weinheim and would like to travel to Germany as soon as possible," Lohrbächer reported. He said he also was very pleased Weinheim's municipal council had decided in 2021 to name a street in the new residential development area "Westlich Hauptbahnhof" after the Israeli twin city. "Maybe it will work out Shama-Hacohen coming to the opening ceremony in 2024," Lohrbächer said. He also conveyed personal greetings from Weinheim's mayor Manuel Just, who is also aiming to make an inaugural visit to Ramat Gan. A good occasion would be the 100-year anniversary of the city, which, according to Shama-Hacohen, is planned to be "re-celebrated" in 2023. In 2021, the actual anniversary year, the Corona pandemic did not allow for any major celebrations, even not in Israel.
Albrecht Lohrbächer has been visiting Israel regularly since the 1980s. He is the chairman of the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association and the driving force and founder of the town twinning. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary citizen of Ramat Gan. However, the Corona pandemic not only caused a forced break of more than two years for the Lohrbächers, but also for the school exchange program, which could not be carried out as usual.
At least virtually, an exchange between six students from Weinheim and twelve young people from Ramat Gan took place during the winter Lohrbächer reported. In Ramat Gan, he met with these students, who enthusiastically reported him about this kind of encounter. The wish to meet in person will come true this summer, at least for four German and six Israeli young people. In addition, 18 students from each of the two cities will resume the regular exchange.
The Lohrbächer couple also visited "old friends" in Ramat Gan. Among others, they met the harmonica orchestra and the mixed choir of Hannah Tzur, which already performed in Weinheim in earlier years. In addition, the program included a visit to the Pinchas Rozen old people's home for which the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association collected donations after the missile attacks on Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan last year. According to the home's management, the money was well used for a joint excursion of the seniors and also for the purchase of new garden furniture.
Overall, Lohrbächer's impression is that Ramat Gan (population 160,000) has recovered well from the pandemic. "The city keeps growing, especially in height," was his impression. In any case, more high-rises had been built since his visit in 2019. Pro, BS (translation)
- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -
Foreground: Ramat Gan theater; tower in the background: Sapir tower
Speech Mr. Lohrbächer to the vigil to the Ukraine war
Source: Translated speech
we are standing here full of anger about the Russian aggressor, but at the same time also full of feelings of helplessness and are moved by a mixture of admiration and the feeling of solidarity for the brave Ukrainians including their president Volodymir Zelenskij.
Volodymir Zelenskij who is under the highest threat to his life these days sees himself and his people exposed to a mania of annihilation and killing by the insane Russian President Putin. As a member of the second generation of Holocaust survivors indelibly carrying the trauma of attempted extermination, it is vital for him to make clear the connection between the actions of the Russian army and the crimes committed during the Nazi era.
Volodymir Zelensky gave a speech early yesterday morning now circulating on the web in which he refers to the targeted attacks against the Babiy Yar memorial site located near Kiev and the Jewish pilgrimage site of Uman.
What was/is Babiy Yar near Kiev? On September 28, 1941, the evacuation of Kiev Jews was ordered. They were to gather near the train station the following day and bring warm clothing, money, and personal documents and valuables. More Jews than expected responded to this call. They were then led to the ravine, where they had to remove their clothing and were systematically shot in accordance with the "Einsatzbefehl der Einsatzgruppe Nr. 101". According to the report of October 2, 1941, 33,771 Jews were killed within 36 hours during the shootings on September 29 and 30, 1941.
Volodymir Zelensky inaugurated the memorial last October.
Under massive protest from the Soviet government, the great Russian Jewish poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko dedicated a moving poem to the events of Babiy Yar in 1961, and Dimitri Shostakovich dedicated Symphony No. 13 in B-flat minor as early as 1962.
The second place mentioned by Zelensky, Uman is a place of pilgrimage for a large number of Orthodox Jews. Every year, tens of thousands of Jews from all over the world come to Uman to pray for salvation and healing at the tomb of the great Rabbi Nachman.
Jewish traces should now be erased once again, Volodymir Zelensky said in his speech yesterday morning:
"The seventh day of this terrible war has begun. A war in which we all feel the same.
We were all shelled last night in Kiev, and we all died again in Babi Yar by a missile attack, although the world keeps promising that it must not and will not happen "Never again."
For the ordinary person who knows the history, Babi Yar is a special place in Kiev. A special place in Europe. A place of prayer. A memorial place for thousands and hundreds of thousands of Ashkenazim, the European Jews who were murdered here by the Nazis.
The memorials of Kiev. Why make such a place the target of a missile attack? They kill the victims of the Holocaust. Once again.
In Soviet times, a television center was built on the site, as well as a sports center. A park was built to erase the special history, to erase the memory of Babi Yar.
This action is beyond human understanding. Such an attack proves that Kiev is completely foreign to many in Russia. They know nothing about our capital, about our history. But still they ordered the destruction of our history, they want to destroy our homeland, destroy all of us.
On the first day of the war, another special place of Judaism was massively shelled. Uman, the place where hundreds and thousands of Jews come and pray every year.
Then they attacked Babi Yar, where tens of thousands of Jews were shot.
I am now addressing to all the Jews of the world - don't you see what is happening here? That is why it is important that millions of Jews raise their voices -everywhere.
The world must not remain silent about these atrocities.
Shout against the killing of civilians. Shout the cry of death! Shout Ukrainians!"
So far from Volodymir Zelensky.
In our twin city of Ramat Gan, the streets and roads are now filled with expressions of solidarity, as the city is home to many survivors of the Shoah from Ukraine and those who, as the second generation, carry with them the wounds of the attempted extermination.
To the Ukrainians, to their incredibly brave President Volodymir Zelensky, to the Jewish people who are reliving old fears, and to our friends in Ramat Gan, we extend our sympathy in these hours and days. None of us knows where all this will lead to, what further massacres Putin's henchmen will allow themselves - we stand by with all our powerlessness and at the same time a feeling of togetherness. And we promise at least: We will - with you - not forget!
(the spoken word is valid! 3.3.2022 - Albrecht Lohrbächer, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finding a connection
High school students of the Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Schule and the Heisenberg-Gymnasium get to know the Israeli partner school in Ramat Gan digitally
Source: Translated from Weinheimer Nachrichten
Weinheim/Ramat Gan. What is life like for young people in Israel? What moves them, what hobbies do they pursue, what issues determine their lives? The high school students of Weinheim's Dietrich Bonhoeffer School (DBS) and Werner Heisenberg High School (WHG) usually have the opportunity to find out just that in a personal exchange with students from ORT Ebin High School in Weinheim's twin city of Ramat Gan.
For 33 years, far longer than the partnership between the two cities has existed, the school exchange has been maintained. Only once did it have to be cancelled for political reasons; it was simply too dangerous to travel to Ramat Gan, which is located near Tel Aviv. Then the corona pandemic came and ensured that this year, for the second time in a row, no personal exchange is possible. Nevertheless, a group of teachers from both schools did not want to accept the fact that the connection to the partner high school would be interrupted again.
Friendships have long since developed between the colleagues as a result of the mutual visits. They stayed connected to each other and together they looked for an alternative. Thanks to modern technology, they found one. By Zoom, Instagram, WhatsApp and the like Tobias Tempel and Susanne Mußmann from DBS, together with tenth-graders Jana Rauh, Hannah Link and Theresa Mayer, exemplified how the two sides are now getting closer with the help of modern technology. Six tenth-grade students from DBS and two from the WHG's eleventh grade helped design the project together with their teachers. "Digital delegation Weinheim - Ramat Gan" can be read on the whiteboard, underlaid with the flags of the two states. Thus, begins a series of short videos in which students from both countries present various topics.
In her video, Jana Rauh presented the city of Weinheim with its many sights. You can see how she explains in English at different points of the city what is worth seeing and characteristic. Hannah Link presents typical German food. Theresa Mayer explains, also in English of course, the various German holidays and festivals. The same topics - including music, the military and the Holocaust - were taken up by the Israeli students and described to their German "colleagues" from their point of view. After introducing themselves to each other in this way, they first got to talk to each other in groups about the various topics through Zoom meetings.
Getting to know each other
Where are the similarities, where are the differences? The exciting process of getting to know each other began on a personal level. "We didn't just exchange ideas on the actual topic," reveals Hannah Link. She says that the lives of young people in Ramat Gan are very different overall from those here. As one example, Hannah cites the fact that scouting is far more important in Israel than in Germany. Also, as a precursor to later military training. "It's very highly regarded there," she says. The Israeli age mates are very often socially involved, for example for people with disabilities, while the young people in this country tend to pursue sporting leisure activities, Jana Rauh has found.
Contacts were quickly exchanged among themselves, and WhatsApp and Instagram groups were formed. "Every Monday," Hannah Link tells us, "we write what we did on the weekend and also send photos." That way you get a better insight into each other's lives.
Is the Holocaust still a topic among young people? There is a video about it, but the topic has hardly ever come up in personal conversations. At first, it's about the basic exchange, getting to know each other better. Later, the Holocaust will certainly become a topic of conversation, according to those involved. In the presence exchange, the Weinheim students visit the former Struthof concentration camp with their guests; in Israel, a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial is an integral part.
Are the students sad that Corona threw a wrench in their visit to Israel? "It would be nice to be there," says Jana Rauh. "But this way it's also a nice way to get in touch and then, if the situation allows, go to the others, who might even be friends."
"Loose and fun"
The Israelis are "super open, mega warm, easy-going and fun," says Theresa Mayer Jana Rauh and her exchange partner teach each other words and phrases in their respective languages. They have become closer. In March, a joint online games evening is on the agenda. According to Tobias Tempel, there is always a close exchange with the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association, which is very interested in supporting the students despite the pandemic. The responsible persons of the city of Weinheim would also be pleased that the schools establish contacts in this way, says Tempel. Awa
- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -
WHEN STREETS CONNECT -
RAMAT GAN IS ALSO PLANNING A WEINHEIM STREET
Source: Translated press release of the city of Weinheim
"I was very happy when I received your letter and learned from it about the honor you and the municipal council are paying to the residents of Ramat Gan." So begins a letter that had landed on the desk of Mayor Manuel Just at Weinheim City Hall. The sender is Carmel Shama-HaCohen, the mayor of Weinheim's Israeli twin city Ramat Gan. By the letter, Shama-HaCohen is in turn responding to a letter that OB Just wrote him after the September municipal council meeting. In it, he informs his counterpart that the municipal council of Weinheim has decided to name a street in the redevelopment area "Westlich Hauptbahnhof" (“West of Main Station”) on the former GRN-Pflege site after Ramat Gan.
The street in question is Plan Street A in the residential area, which is also adjoined by a small park. The location was chosen because of its centrality, the high quality of living in the new construction area and because of a park located on the street, fitting to the twin city: Ramat Gan is Hebrew and means "garden height".
Since 1999, the city of Weinheim has maintained a partnership with Ramat Gan, a neighboring city of Tel Aviv. That the street name also has a connection to Jewish history and the Nazi dictatorship is also clear from the naming of the second street in the area. This is named after the Jewish journalist and philosopher Hannah Arendt, who studied and received her doctorate in Heidelberg.
In Ramat Gan, the street naming has been so well received that a street is now also to be named after Weinheim there. In his letter to Weinheim, Carmel Shama-HaCohen announced this being proposed "as a sign of identification" in the next meeting of the city council of Ramat-Gan. This counter gesture is a clear sign of solidarity between the two twin towns. It is planned that a delegation will be present at the inauguration of the road in each case. Carmel Shama-HaCohen writes: "We are looking forward to coming to Weinheim.”
TWIN CITY GETS STREET NAME IN WEINHEIM
Source: Weinheim.de (translated)
In the residential area "Westlich Hauptbahnhof", which is currently being built on the site of the former "Kreispflege" nursing home, the city will express the appreciation for and its solidarity with its Israeli twin city Ramat Gan by naming a street after it. Since 1999, the city of Weinheim has maintained a partnership with Ramat Gan, a neighboring city of Tel Aviv.
The street in question is Planstrasse A in the new residential area, which is also adjoined by a small park. The municipal council just voted for the naming in “Ramat Gan Strasse” during its recent meeting. It is still open whether the park will also officially bear the name of the twin city.
The fact that the street name has a connection to Jewish history and the Nazi dictatorship becomes also clear from the naming of "Planstrasse B". Here, the council followed the city's suggestion to honor the Jewish journalist and philosopher Hannah Arendt by an own street name ("Hannah-Arendt-Strasse").
Hannah Arendt had to flee Germany from the Nazis in 1933. In France, she initially campaigned for Jewish children to emigrate to Palestine. In 1941 she managed to emigrate to the USA. In New York, she wrote regular columns for the German-Jewish emigrant newspaper "Aufbau". From 1944 she worked for the "Conference on Jewish Relations". The political philosopher remained in the USA after 1945 and taught as a professor at various universities. Until she died in December 1975 she repeatedly devoted her work to the fundamental questions of personal responsibility for political action in a totalitarian state on the background of her own experiences under the Nazi dictatorship and in exile.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE TWIN TOWN
Twin cities: Donations from Weinheim do fund the excursion of a senior citizens' home in Ramat Gan
The friendly exchange between Weinheim and the Israeli twin city of Ramat Gan is moving again. Albrecht Lohrbächer, chairman of the Freundeskreis Weinheim Ramat Gan and driving force behind the town twinning, hereby plays a major role.
When news of the armed conflicts between the Israelis and the radical Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas reached Germany in March, it was a matter of the heart for the Freundeskreis to show solidarity. Weinheim's twin town was also affected by the rocket attacks and the association quickly initiated a fundraising campaign within its own ranks. The impressive sum of 750 euros was used to support a home for the elderly in Ramat Gan, which is home to many Jews who fled Germany in the 1930s to escape the Holocaust. The money was used to subsidize a trip by the Pinkhas Rozen home to the nearby national park. “The residents were able to recharge their batteries," reports Oliver Vrankovic. The German works as a nurse at the home and now stopped off in Weinheim on a trip home to thank the residents for their support. After the extreme restrictions caused by the Corona pandemic, Lohrbächer was particularly pleased to welcome the guest to the marketplace.
It was not his first visit. The contact goes back to the connection of the city councils. The friendship has lasted for many years. Vrankovic has just been elected chairman of the German-Israeli Society for the Stuttgart region, although he lives in Ramat Gan. He reported terrible scenes during the time of the shelling. Residents of the retirement home had 90 seconds from the sounding of the sirens to get to safety. "Reaching a bunker was out of the question in that short period of time," the 42-year-old knows. The windowless corridors at least offered protection from shattering glass, one of the main causes of injury in rocket attacks. Six such extreme situations were faced by seniors, caregivers and home management. "That did something to the residents," Vrankovic regrets. Especially in view of the many past wars these elderly people have had to experience - from the flight from Germany through The Great Palestinian Revolt, the Israeli War of Independence, the Six-Day-War to the Second Gulf War to name some of them. Now, their concern is not so much for themselves. Vrankovic: "Most of them are constantly worried about their relatives." The help from Weinheim may not have taken away the worries of the seniors in Ramat Gan, "But it has simply done the residents good." as Vrankovic puts it. Especially, because the isolation during the pandemic also took its toll from the pensioners. According to the German nurse, the seniors were already vaccinated in January, but there is a fear of further illness. At the "Pinkhas Rozen" nursing home itself, there had previously been two deaths. Corona has also slowed down the exchange of the partnership. Albrecht Lohrbächer: "Now it's a matter of giving the network a new push." If it is possible, the student exchange is to be resumed next year. For this November a journey of a delegation from Weinheim to Israel already is planned - always presupposed the infection happening permits it. Then Weinheim’s Mayor Manuel Just could finally get to know his counterpart Carmel Shama HaCohen. And Lohrbächer would of course be there, too, incidentally the only honorary citizen of Ramat Gans without Israeli origin.
By Iris Kleefoot (translated)
Picture: Fritz Kopetzky