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Friendship Association Weinheim - Ramat Gan e. V. 

GER

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N E W S

Call for Israel

Weinheim/Hemsbach, 24.5.2024

In view of the critical situation for Israel, the boards of both associations once again declare their solidarity  with Israel:


We do not want to and will not abandon Israel and expect the same from those in power in Berlin:

 

  • Israel continues to be threatened by two terrorist groups, Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. Every day, rockets rain down on large areas of the heartland of Israel. This is hardly reported on any more.

  • For more than seven months, ten thousands of evacuated Israelis have been living in emergency shelters without any prospects;

  • For more than seven months, more than a hundred Israelis have been starving in Hamas caves. It is also our duty to constantly remind people of that!

  • For more than seven months, Israel has had to wage an unprecedented defensive war against terrorists in an urban environment.

  • For more than seven months, Israel has been slipping into an economic disaster with huge military expenses - this is also one of the consequences of an unprecedented attack by Hamas against the Israeli people.


In the meantime, in Berlin there is still an emphasis on “reason of state” (“Staatsräson”) with regard to Israel, and we agree with the Federal Chancellor in his assessment that the atrocities committed by the terrorists cannot be in the slightest compared to Israel's warfare: “The Federal Government firmly rejects any semblance of comparability”. At the same time, we are very irritated by the government spokesperson's assurance that, following the International Criminal Court's threat against Prime Minister Netanyahu, he will be arrested and extradited if an arrest warrant is issued. The country that bears responsibility for the Shoah finds it acceptable that democratically elected and controlled politicians should be punished by the court in The Hague if they seek to eliminate this danger in the defensive fight against terror and thus also want to free the hostages. If the emphasis of “reason of state”(“Staatsräson”) is to have any meaning, then now would be the time to stand by Israel in the face of increasing defamation and isolation in the international community with clear and unambiguous words and to build up international pressure on Hamas to release the hostages and lay down its arms.


We do not want to and will not leave Israel alone and expect this from every citizen and from those in power in Berlin.


We call on all those who have called for solidarity with Israel in recent months to keep their often-invoked promise, especially now.


We expect those in power, the courts and the police to do everything possible to provide the Jews living here with real security from the anti-Israeli protesters threatening them.


We are counting on Europe, which is facing a fateful choice, not to open itself up even further to anti-Semitic activities and risk losing the central pillar of European identity, the small Jewish minority.


We stand with Jews worldwide: Am Israel Chai – das Volk Israel lebt

Weinheim's Twin Town: Soldier Rebecca Baruch is one of the Many Victims of the War

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 28.01.2024

Young men and women from Ramat Gan continue to be killed in the war. Meanwhile, some 1000 people have fled the battle zones to the twin city. The latter continues to be the target of rocket attacks. And the number of cases in which explosive devices make it through the protective shields is increasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Baruch of Ramat Gan moved to Israel from the Netherlands. During her military service,

she suffered a fatal encephalitis. Foto: Facebook / MayorShama

"I have no doubt that the war will not end," writes Smadar Caspi. At least not until Israel achieves its goals and the hostages were freed. "I am sure we will win. But what will be the fate of the State of Israel?" asks the teacher, who was a guest in Weinheim this summer as part of the student exchange program.

Two weeks of agony

Most of the men in her family are currently deployed in the south and north of Israel. According to the Ramat Gan city hall, more than 6,000 residents of the twin city have been drafted so far. A total of 26 residents have been killed. The most recent report is just a few days old and concerns Rebecca Baruch, a native of the Netherlands, who was just 24 years old. She died after two weeks of agony and despite several operations, Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen wrote on Facebook. According to media reports, the Ramat Gans resident had suffered a brain inflammation during surgery. According to the Dutch daily "AD," Baruch volunteered for service immediately after the outbreak of the war. She was no stranger to war: in 2018, she was accompanied by a camera crew as part of the documentary "Lone Soldier".

Like the entire Middle East, Ramat Gan, Weinheim's twin city in Israel, cannot rest. The community near Tel Aviv continues to be the target of rocket attacks. The number of war victims, mostly young men and women, is growing. The number of refugees seeking shelter in Ramat Gan is growing as well. And yet there are always overwhelming signs of solidarity. Some of them find their way from Weinheim over 4100 kilometers to the heart of the Israeli community.

Since the terrorist attack on October 7, some 700 Israeli civilians and 556 soldiers have been killed. The number of Palestinian victims is much higher: according to the Hamas health authority, 25,000, including many civilians. Especially in the border areas, many Israeli and Arab citizens have had to leave their homes and flee.

Many of the refugees from the towns around Gaza are children - both Jewish and Arab.

The picture shows the mayor of Ramat Gan with a girl who lost her home. Foto: Facebook/MayorShama

According to Ramat Gan city hall, around 1,000 refugees have been accommodated in the city. They mainly come from the south, where the Black Sabbath atrocities took place. Among the victims were also residents of Ramat Gan, such as 26-year-old Oriya Ricardo, who had attended the Supernova Festival in Re'im (we reported), where Hamas carried out the largest mass murder of Jews since the Second World War.

Rockets hit houses

Accommodating the large number of homeless people poses a major challenge for Ramat Gan. Nevertheless, according to the town hall, every refugee is welcomed with open arms. Only recently, 55 families from Kibbutz Sufa were accommodated in two newly built apartment buildings. At the request of the town hall, the 55 owners of the respective apartments had agreed that the people could live there for at least six months.

 

Foto: Facebook/MayorShama

Some people have also lost their homes in Ramat Gan itself. The reason for this is also worrying. After a Hamas rocket penetrated the "Iron Dome" shield and destroyed a house in late October (we reported), there have been other direct hits on residential buildings. Meanwhile, an Arab resident's bicycle shop was the victim of a hate crime. "It was set on fire only because its Arab owner donated bicycles to children after October 7," said Ramat Gan Mayor Shama-Hacohen. Bicycles are given to refugee children in the Israeli sister city. Supporters from Weinheim are also helping. Albrecht Lohrbächer, the "father" of the youth exchange with Ramat Gan, has been collecting donations for the twin city together with the Friendship Association for some time now.

A total of 30,000 euros in donations

"We have now transferred 20,000 euros," explains the theologian. "The money was mainly used to buy bicycles for the evacuated children. And Lohrbächer already has the next piece of good news in his pocket. The Friendship Association has now exceeded the 30,000 Euro mark in donations. The next goal is to support trauma therapy for the refugees. "It is impossible to comprehend the horror these people have experienced," says the Ramat Gan city hall. Many of them lost family members in the October 7 attack. Some still fear for the lives of kidnapped relatives.

The Friendship Association Weinheim-Ramat-Gan continues to ask for the solidarity of the population. The non-profit organization is committed to forwarding 100 percent of the donations. Donation account at the Volksbank Kurpfalz: Freundeskreis Weinheim-Ramat Gan e.V. IBAN DE21 6709 2300 0001 1646 00

With the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten

Goal: € 30.000 for Ramat Gan​

Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association: The fundraising campaign for the people of the twin town continues.

Appeal for solidarity

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 30.11.2023

"I have wonderful news!" Albrecht Lohrbächer answers the phone. The "father" of the exchange between Weinheim and its Israeli twin town Ramat Gan has been busy collecting donations over the past weeks. The amount raised was considerable: More than 15,000 euros, 10,000 of which have already been transferred.

Weinheim. The Hamas terrorist attack on Israel overshadowed the general meeting of the Weinheim - Ramat Gan Circle of Friends. The Circle of Friends was founded in 1990 as an association of citizens who have made it their task to maintain and promote friendly relations with the people in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan. The core of its work is the promotion of youth exchange between the two twin cities. In his report, chairman Albrecht Lohrbächer went into detail about the current situation in Israel and especially in the twin city. Lohrbächer mourned the death of honorary member Moshe Meron. He was deputy mayor of Ramat Gan, member of the Knesset and chairman of the Ramat Gan Foundation. The city partnership was his initiative. Meron died on the night of October 6-7 at the age of 97.


Lohrbächer is in close contact with the people in Ramat Gan and described the suffering of the internally displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes in order to survive. "That is why the money from the fundraising campaign called for by the Friendship Association can be put to very good use," he emphasized, proudly and happily reporting that almost 24,000 euros have now been collected. 


The Friendship Association, with the approval of the members present, donated 5000 euros from its assets. About 80 individual donations have been received so far, some of them substantial. The city of Weinheim has also promised a donation. "I hope that 30,000 Euros will be collected. That would be a wonderful Christmas present for our association," Lohrbächer added.


First Donations Transferred
The first 10,000 euros have already been transferred to the Ramat Gan Foundation. The money will be used, among other things, to alleviate the suffering of IDPs, who often have only the clothes they wore when they fled, the chairman said.


Ramat Gan, like about 100 other towns in Israel, has taken in people from other parts of the country. Many volunteers are caring for them by setting up tent cities or equipping hotels to house them. "If even more people could declare their solidarity with our twin city and donate some money, that would be a great sign from Weinheim," added Lohrbächer.


Later in the meeting, treasurer Maina Somers presented her report. The two auditors, Dirk Ahlheim and Thomas Ott, confirmed that her accounts were in order. The actions of the entire board for 2022 were unanimously approved.


Celebration in Question
The year 2024 should be a special one for the association, as the partnership between Weinheim and Ramat Gan will be 25 years old. "Due to the war, I can only imagine a celebration - in whatever form - in the fall of next year at the earliest, in consultation with Lord Mayor Manuel Just," said Lohrbächer.


Albrecht Lohrbächer was re-elected as chairman of the board in the regular board elections that followed. Angelika Wetter remains deputy chairperson. Maina Somers remains treasurer. Wolfgang Fath, Andrea Pascher and Bernd Schlesselmann also remain on the board. Rolf Hackenbroch and Luca Panizzo, who joined the circle of friends in the middle of the year, were newly elected to the board. The two auditors, Dr. Thomas Ott and Dirk Ahlheim, were re-elected for a further two years. Dr. Carsten Labudda and Ines Starp are retiring from the board.


With the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten

Donations for Internal Refugees 

Weinheim residents transfer 15.000 Euros for accommodation for homeless Jewish and Arab Israelis.

 

 

Among the refugees from the villages around Gaza are many children - both Jewish and Arab.

Pictured is Ramat Gan's mayor with a girl who lost her home. Photo: Facebook/Mayor Shama

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 18.11.2023

"I have wonderful news!" Albrecht Lohrbächer answers the phone. The "father" of the exchange between Weinheim and its Israeli twin town Ramat Gan has been busy collecting donations over the past weeks. The amount raised was considerable: More than 15,000 euros, 10,000 of which have already been transferred.

Through the money, Jewish and Arab internally displaced persons who survived the Hamas terror attack on October 7 in the villages around the Gaza Strip will benefit. More than 200,000 Jewish and Arab Israelis left their homes out of fear of Hamas and Hezbollah. Around 1000 of them found refuge in Ramat Gan. "The friendship association has decided to support the twin city by collecting donations," Albrecht Lohrbächer says.

The dramatic events that have taken place since 7 October have left us breathless. Many thousands of people, including many children, have lost their lives in Israel and Gaza. The injured, the homeless, the livelihoods destroyed: The list goes on and on. In the face of this tragic conflict, theologian Albrecht Lohrbächer wants to draw attention to the suffering of the internally displaced persons. As he is in constant contact with the partner city and its citizens, he has first-hand knowledge of their fate.

"All they have left is what they were wearing when they fled. That means they have lost their jobs, their income and, in most cases, all their documents," he explains. They have to be fed every day, often live in tents and are exposed to the daily rocket terror of Hamas (90 seconds to the next bunker). For the many children and teenagers, care and education have to be organized. "As the fathers are often deployed as soldiers in the fight against Hamas, the families have to cope with the daily uncertainty of whether they will survive," the Weinheimer says. He recently received the shocking news that a friend's grandson had to be buried. Being a soldier had been killed in the war.

Given the enormous challenges faced by nearly 100 Israeli towns in accommodating large numbers of displaces persons, Ramat Gan officials and the many volunteers are grateful for any material support. Together with the Mayor, Manuel Just, the Weinheim-Ramat Gan friendship association is convinced that the town twinning must now prove its worth. To express solidarity, but above all to visibly support in the provision of accommodation and care. "That is why we are still appealing to everyone who is in favor of solidarity between Israelis and our people to donate money to this campaign”.

 

 

 

The Israeli flag is hoisted in front of Weinheim's town hall. Photo: Municipality of Weinheim

The mayor of Ramat Gan, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, is extremely grateful for the solidarity campaign organized by the twin town. In particular, he was overwhelmed by the gesture of solidarity shown in raising the Israeli flag at the town hall.

The non-profit organisation Freundeskreis Weinheim-Ramat Gan pledges to pass on 100 per cent of the donations.

Donation account at Volksbank Weinheim: Freundeskreis Weinheim-Ramat Gan e.V. IBAN DE21 6709 2300 0001 1646 00

With friendly permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten

Never Again a Victim! 

It is time for active solidarity with Jews in Germany and Israel!

Weinheim/ Hemsbach, 13.11.2023

Since the end of the Shoah, Jews have been determined: We never want to be victims again!

On October 7 and the days that followed, this lesson from the Shoah was attacked by Islamic terrorists with inhuman bestiality. As a result, unprecedented anti-Semitic attacks were carried out worldwide, including in Germany and Europe, against Jews living there.

As an association of citizens who stand by the side of Jews and Israelis, we oppose

  • against any form of reversing perpetrators and victims, because it is clear that Israel is defending itself against terror and must defend itself;

  • against the anti-Jewish hatred on our streets that threatens Jews among us and questions the existence of the State of Israel.

It is not the time to give the Israeli fine advice from a safe distance on what they should and should not do or even to ask from them stop fighting Hamas as long as they are being shot at with rockets on a daily basis and as long as the Israeli hostages are in the hands of terrorists.

It is the time to not only send compassionate words to the Jewish minority among us, but to also listen to them attentively and stand by them in a recognizable manner.

It is the time to give full political and material support to the traumatized Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.

It is the time to publicly oppose those who promote hatred against Jews and Israelis on our streets.

It is time for active solidarity with Jews in Germany and Israel!

Hamas rocket hits residential building in Weinheims twin city Ramat Gan

Photo: Faceboo / MayorShama

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 29.10.2023

On Saturday evening, the "Iron Dome" protective shield in Weinheim's Israeli twin town failed. Public life comes to a standstill. Still during the night, the top administrative and security officials reported back to the population with planned measures.

The long-lasting and incessant fear has now become a bitter reality: On Saturday evening, the "Iron Dome" missile shield failed for the first time in Weinheim's twin city. "Direct hit in a private house in Ramat Gan, currently there are no reports of casualties. I will make an update on the way there," Mayor Shama-Hacohen sends an urgent message via social media on his way to the shattered building. There are also rocket hits in the surrounding area. However, there are casualties here.

„Direct hit“

According to Shama-Hacohen, the house in Ramat Gan was a "direct hit". Fortunately, there were no fatalities or injuries - apart from the "panic victims" caused by the missile strike. The mayor did not say this without reason: "The psychological dimension that this failure of the missile shield has in the minds of the residents should not be underestimated. The alarm tones that sound from sirens and smartphones are part of the constant background noise in the life of the twin city. With the missile strike on Ramat Gan's territory, the threat becomes tangible again.

The last time the system failed was in 2021, when two rockets found their way to Ramat Gan when Palestinian militants massively bombarded the greater Tel Aviv area. The bombardment cost the life of a 55-year-old man who was unable to go to one of the bunkers due to health problems. It is not known whether the residents of the house bombed on Saturday were also able to take refuge in a shelter or were not at home.

The shock runs deep

"You need to understand," says Weinheim theologian Albrecht Lohrbächer in an interview with the WN/OZ, "that the shock of October 7 runs incredibly deep and keeps returning". Being the "father" of the German-Israeli town twinning, the 80-year old is in constant contact with the people and residents of Ramat Gan. Thanks to his many visits to Israel and the twin town, he understands the mentality of the people like no one else in Weinheim. "In Ramat Gan, everyone knows everyone. The connection with the suffering of the people is very strong in small Israel anyway. They see themselves as a community of destiny."

The rocket hit has immediate consequences for social life in Ramat Gan. On Saturday, the Israeli Home Front Command lowered the warning level from green to yellow. The Regional Command of the Israel Defense Forces, which was founded in 1992 as a direct response to the Second Gulf War, is responsible, among other things, for the command and coordination of Israel's civil defense and civil defense and protection. The municipality secluded itself to re-evaluate the situation.

Later in the evening, the top administrative and security officials turned to the population. Public life in Weinheim's twin town will continue to come to a standstill. Similar to the pandemic-related lockdown, cafés and stores are closed - apart from those that provide basic services. Construction site operations have also been suspended. Mayor Shama-Hacohen wanted to keep the traffic infrastructure and access to shelters free from construction site operations and vehicles.

"Due to these decisions, the mayor was under massive pressure," says Albrecht Lohrbächer. Especially because the Israeli city in the Tel Aviv district has more restrictions than many other municipalities, significantly more than Tel Aviv itself, which is only 20 minutes away. The companies had even taken legal action against the construction site freeze in summary proceedings.

Home schooling for students

Online, in particular criticism of the school closures rised. Presumably this is why the mayor launched a survey on Facebook before announcing the individual measures. At the same time, he emphasized that the opinion poll had "no direct influence" on the decision. The head of administration has now also decided to send secondary schools to home schooling. In elementary school, only some of the lessons in grades one to three will take place on site. The kindergartens and daycare centers will continue to operate with restrictions.

The number of fatalities among the residents of Ramat Gan is at double digit figures. It was mainly young soldiers who lost their lives. However, there were also citizens who were present at the bloody massacres carried out by Hamas terrorists in and around the kibbutz Re'im in southern Israel. The 26-year-old resident of Ramat Gans Oriya Ricardo was killed there.

With friendly permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten.

Rally in Weinheim's Stadtgarten:

Hamas Terror Casts Dark Shadow on Twin City Ramat Gan

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 14.10.2023

Amidst gray clouds and in the heart of Weinheim's Stadtgarten, 130 people gathered on Thursday to send a strong message of solidarity for Israel. They followed the call of the alliance "Weinheim bleibt bunt and the Friendship Association Weinheim – Ramat Gan to protest against the terrorist attacks of Hamas and to commemorate the victims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo: Marco Schilling


"Solidarity for Israel," a man shouted and waved the Israeli national flag in the Weinheim city garden und a cloudy sky. At the memorial for the victims of war and violence, 130 people gathered on Thursday evening to send a clear signal against the terrorist attacks of Hamas in Israel and at the same time to commemorate the numerous victims. They followed the call of the alliance "Weinheim bleibt bunt" and the Friendship Association Weinheim – Ramat.

 

 

Hamas‘ Terror

The war in Israel does not even stop at Weinheim's twin city Ramat Gan. The terror of Hamas casts dark shadows on the city in the Tel Aviv district. Albrecht Lohrbächer, the chairman of the circle of friends, read out the names of the soldiers, some of them still very young, who died in the fight against the terrorists: Daniel Asher Cohen, Niv Tel Zur, Ido Peretz, Eli Bar Am, Gal Navon, David Binenstock, Ido Israel Shani, Yuval Libani, Olga Rumshkin, Eden Abdelayev.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo: Marco Schilling


After a minute's silence, the theologian reported on the current situation in Israel. The 80-year-old called for critical questions to be asked and emphasized the need to show solidarity with Israel in Germany. The safety and well-being of Jewish citizens was the top priority, he said. Lohrbächer emphasized that the friends from Ramat Gan counted on the unrestricted support of the Germans and Weinheimers. Luca Toldo, saxophonist from Hemsbach and conductor of the orchestra of the Jewish Community Mannheim, musically accompanied the rally. The melodies filled the devotion with dark, but also gentle tones that made people think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo: Marco Schilling


"We mourn the loss of many women, children, young people, old people, soldiers," said Stella Kirgiane-Efremidou. In her speech, the Weinheim town councilor expressed deep sorrow for the victims in Israel. She condemned the inhumane attack by Hamas and stressed that such atrocities should not be tolerated. She called for people not to become numb: "This conflict concerns us all." The Weinheim woman also called for the rejection of hatred and anti-semitism. "What we must not tolerate and accept under any circumstances - regardless of one's position on this political conflict - is that hatred is allowed to be openly chanted in our country!" Suffering and death must not be taken as an occasion to rejoice.


After these impressive words, Mayor Manuel Just made it clear: "Today is the seventh day of the attack on Israel. The country mourns over 1,000 deaths, and the images of cruel, barbaric killings do not let us go." Just continued, "I am very pleased and grateful for the clear stance of our German government and our European neighbors. The fact that Israel's security is part of Germany's reason of state is the result of our common past." Finally, the mayor thanked the alliance "Weinheim bleibt bunt" and Albrecht Lohrbächer for their commitment. Just announced the support of  the appeal for donations for Ramat Gan.


"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Violence that continues to breed violence." - for Daniel Ott, this is the wrong approach to peace. Ott spent two weeks on a Kibbutz, a Jewish communal settlement, and was able to get a personal picture of life in Israel. In the course of an academic project, he formed close friendships with Israelis and Palestinians. It should not be ignored that there are civilian casualties on both sides, Ott said. "Revenge fuels the endless cycle of violence" and must be interrupted for peace, the young Weinheimer said.


In the course of the event, those present heard moving reports that citizens of Ramat Gan had sent to Albrecht Lohrbächer and were presented by Hohensachsen's local head Monika Springer and Dirk Ahlheim. Both are members of "Weinheim bleibt bunt". Springer relayed a 45-year-old woman's account of the horrific hostage-taking, quoting her as saying, "Israel fights and survives." Dirk Ahlheim, also deeply moved, read the text of a 50-year-old man who expressed his gratitude for German solidarity in a few lines. The 50-year-old's message: "Our own country must be defended."
The Friendship Association Weinheim - Ramat Gan and the City of Weinheim are calling for donations for the friends in Ramat Gan, city employees and volunteers who are helping evacuees from the communities around Gaza.


Account for donations: Freundeskreis Weinheim - Ramat Gan, Volksbank Weinheim, IBAN: DE21 6709 2300 0001 1646 00
From Loredana Bland


With friendly permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten.

War in Weinheim's twin town: Mayor reports
kidnapping of residents

During Hamas' major attack on Israel, the city of Ramat Gan, Weinheim's twin city, is
on constant alert. Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen and the city’s residents are living
in permanent fear of missile fire. While the media report on the development,
Shama-Hacohen tries to keep the population informed and calls for prudence.

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 09.10.2023

Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen keeps residents updated via Facebook.

Suddenly Israel is at war. The large-scale Hamas attack terrifies the country's inhabitants. Never before, so many civilians have been killed in such a short time. The Tel Aviv district is one of the countless targets of the rocket fire. Weinheim's twin city Ramat Gan is also located there. Within the city, there is a constant alarm from the bombardments. Outside the city’s borders, many have already become victims of Hamas: "Unfortunately, we already know of some residents of the city who have been kidnapped, seriously injured or are missing on the southern front." Ramat Gan Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen shares. "We will pray that they will return home soon."


The media report on the developments in the country non-stop. The number of people killed continues to rise on both sides: On Sunday afternoon, the German News Agency put the death toll on the Israeli side alone at 500, with another 2,000 injured. In a confusing news situation, all stations broadcast reports which people follow with the hope of gaining certainty about missing relatives. Among other means, Carmel Shama-Hacohen keeps the population up to date via Facebook: "If there is any unusual event in the city that poses danger to you, I will inform you immediately," he promises the citizens.


Israel and the greater Tel Aviv area are the target of countless rocket attacks.


The 50-year-old warns, asks for understanding as well as for solidarity and calls for prudence. Also, because the missile shield could crack: "The risk of missile impacts due to the intensity of the bombardment is higher than ever," says Carmel Shama- Hacohen. For the event "the alarm sounds" citizens should keep the potential shelters in mind at all times going out on the street. The mayor appeals for sensitivity and helpfulness for elderly citizens, saying, "Some of them have difficulties dealing with the emergency situation on their own." And Carmel Shama-Hacohen asks: Fake News should be ignored and certainly not spread.

 

Albrecht Lohrbächer (second from left) and Lord Mayor Manuel Just (center) during their visit to Ramat Gan in June.


"Both of my sons are in the army," Jehoshua* says. Due to the strict compulsory military service, which requires all 16-year-old residents to register with the Israeli army authorities, quite a few parents fear for their children. "Almost every family is affected by the mobilization," says Albrecht Lohrbächer, "father" of the exchange between Weinheim and Ramat Gan. Also Jehoshua, who urgently asks not to be called by his real name because of his sons. The sound of his voice on the phone gives a vague insight into the shock and concern of the citizens from the twin city. The man who is normally so funny and cracking jokes appears much different than in July when he visited Weinheim with the student exchange delegation. The return visit of the Weinheimers is planned for the end of this month. Given the situation, however, the visit seems very unlikely.

 

 

 

 


In July, a delegation from Ramat Gan was in Weinheim.


Albrecht Lohrbächer is in constant exchange with befriended citizens of Ramat Gan and Israelis from other parts of the country. Among them is Dani Gogol whose late father Shmuel visited Weinheim several times with the Ramat Gans children's harmonica group, thus laying the foundation for the friendship between the cities. The concern is big: "Dani has two grandsons who are active in the military near the Gaza Strip."


Albrecht Lohrbächer has installed the warning app Tzofar on his smartphone. The incessant cell phone messages about the devastating missile fire on Israel resound from Lohrbächer's pocket even during the conversation with WN. "The last warning for Ramat Gan was yesterday at 8:19 p.m.," the former school dean and theologian reported on Sunday.


"We hear the explosions. The rockets hit maybe ten to twenty kilometers from us," says Jehoshua. If a Palestinian rocket targets the area, the alarm sirens and smartphones go off. The information about the determined impact site reveals how much time is then left for escape. Sometimes it's a minute. Sometimes it's ten seconds. "Most apartments have panic rooms made of concrete and metal," the Israeli explains. "After we hear the explosion, we have to wait ten minutes, then we are allowed to leave the panic room."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Major Manuel Just


Rally for Ramat Gan
The alliance "Weinheim bleibt bunt (Weinheim stays colourful)", which also includes the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association, the city of Weinheim and the Stadtjugendring, invites to a rally at the memorial in the Stadtgarten (Ehretstraße) to stand up together against war and for the people in Israel on Thursday, October 12, 6 p.m..The population of Weinheim is cordially invited. The Stadtjugendring had planned a trip with young people to Ramat Gan in November.


Mayor Manuel Just, who was a guest in the twin city in June, expressed his solidarity with and sympathy for Ramat Gan. "Since I learned about the attacks from our media, I have been deeply concerned. My thoughts were immediately with our friends in Israel," he explains. He said that during his visit to Ramat Gan he had witnessed the extent to which the people there are trying to reconcile their lives with ever-present threats and real terrorist attacks. "However, a declaration of war accompanied by massive shelling at the same time as there is at the moment I think represents a new dimension in the context of the recent past."


Solidarity with mit Ramat Gan
OB Just and Albrecht Lohrbächer agreed to remain in close exchange about the situation in Ramat Gan. If necessary and at appropriate time, there should also be a personal contact with Just's counterpart Carmel Shama-Hacohen very quickly as well as with the First Mayor Roi Barzilai. Just: "In the next few days, it will be necessary to examine and discuss how we as a twin city and friends can concretely help the people of Ramat Gan."


Help, that is the big order of the day in Ramat Gan. Jehoshua reports that Ramat Gan families, including all the children, packed boxes of food and clothing for the residents of southern Israel. "We offer space for the children to live here," he says. Even for the pets, he says, they try to provide support as best they can. (* Name changed by the editor)


With kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten.

aw.jpg

New Ways of Remembrance Culture

Symposium: Anti-Semitism is still present in everyday life. Appreciation of Albrecht Lohrbächer's
decades of commitment.

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 01.08.2023

To mark the 80th birthday of Albrecht Lohrbächer (right), a symposium on the future of remembrance work and
commitment to Israel was held at the Old Town Hall on Sunday. The picture shows from left: Gabriel Zellmer,
Victor Márki, Michael Heitz, Caitlin Follo and Miriam Marhöfer. Picture: Carsten Propp

Weinheim. "Eighty years old – not the time to hold court, certainly not in these times of crisis and war." With these words, Albrecht Lohrbächer had invited to a symposium, which took place on Sunday on his round birthday in the Old Town Hall. Under the moderation of Michael Heitz from the board of the German-Israeli Society (DIG) Rhine-Neckar, young people came to speak who - like Lohrbächer - feel committed to the future of remembrance
work, the commitment to Israel and the confrontation with anti-Semitism. Thus, the focus was on the future.


Weinheim's mayor Manuel Just - also on behalf of Hemsbach's mayor Jürgen Kirchner - did not miss the opportunity to express his special appreciation for Lohrbächer's decades of engagement. The 80-year-old symbolized the town twinning between Weinheim and Ramat Gan and, together with his wife Ulrike, had made German-Israeli friendship his life's work.


Miriam Marhöfer from the Jewish community in Mannheim reported the guests about her voluntary work in schools, where she tells young people about everyday Jewish life in Germany. It is “bitter reality” that this includes the police presence in front of the synagogue. For Caitlin Follo, who is involved in a remembrance project in Hemsbach, memorials are becoming increasingly important because there will soon be no more eyewitnesses to the persecution of Jews under the National Socialists. Additionally, new, digital ways must be found to arouse the interest of young people.


Of particular importance
Lukas Göcke, who looks after the website of the Weinheim - Ramat Gan Friendship Circle, has dedicated himself to this task. For him, the regular student exchange between the two cities is of particular importance and has already resulted in many "friendships for life".  Gabriel Zellmer, who is involved in the Friends of the Former Hemsbach Synagogue and trains future teachers as a lecturer, made clear that anti-Semitism was still present in everyday life. Hence, it was so important to deal with the topic in schools not only in the context of the Nazi era and also because even in current criticism of Israel's policies, anti-Semitism often subliminally resonated, Victor Márki of the Young Forum in the DIG added.


The symposium was opened by the musical contribution "The Tree of Life" from the Jewish liturgy, which the former cantor and rabbi Gérald Rosenfeld dedicated to his friend Albrecht Lohrbächer.


The gifts that the jubilarian received from the participants of the symposium as a special sign of gratitude matched this: Seven trees will be planted in honor of Albrecht Lohrbächer in Israel. The event was musically framed by Laurenz Lohrbächer. Pro

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

A Hug for Farewell ​

Exchange: Students from Israeli twin city Ramat Gan bid farewell

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 26.07.2023

Weinheim. Yalla Ramat Gan! Albrecht Lohrbächer has been accompanying the youth exchange between young people from Weinheim and its Israeli twin city Ramat Gan for many years. This year’s meeting which now came to an end has particularly touched him. "A lot has grown together there," he summed up as the young people sat on the bus to the airport.


Their hosts from Weinheim waved after them for a long time. "It rarely has been so cordial," said Lohrbächer, who is also the driving force behind the town twinning and an honorary citizen of Ramat Gan. According to the former school dean of many years, it was possibly due to the unclear political situation in Israel that the conversations about personal matters, but also about politics and history, were particularly intense this time. This was also confirmed by the accompanying teachers Smadar Caspi and Carmi Sternberg.


As always, the Stadtjugendring accompanied the exchange very closely from Weinheim's side. It was a moving moment when, shortly before departure, the young people from Ramat Gan and Weinheim spontaneously embraced each other in a circle. The Friendship Association Weinheim - Ramat Gan had donated a cake for all of them. As a consolation: The young people do not have to wait too long for a reunion. Already in October the return visit to Israel is planned. And then the path will be clear for long-lasting friendships anyway. There are a few of such role models from around 40 years of encounters.


During their visit to Weinheim, the young people and their teachers were guests at a meeting in the town hall (we reported).

 

There they talked about the society, history and community of Ramat Gan and of course about the exchange project: Teacher Smadar Caspi told that the demand for the German exchange is very high. "We choose participants very carefully."


It's not just a fun event, she said. Only the exemplary students who would be "the best ambassadors for our city" would be allowed to go. "Everyone wants to be part of something so special, but not everyone can," 17-year-old Harel Hanoch agreed with his teacher.


With friendly permission of the Weinheimer Nachrichten

Young Israelis Talk about Riots on Judiciary Reforms

Weinheim currently has visitors from the twin city of Ramat Gan again. At a meeting
in the town hall, three of them talk about society, history and community.

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 19.07.2023

 It is also a matter of the mind but above all, it is a matter of the heart. This is how Wolfgang Metzeltin (second from the right) from the Stadtjugendring sees the 30-year-old student exchange between Weinheim and Ramat Gan. In the town hall, young people and teachers from the Israeli twin town met with project supervisors and First Mayor Dr. Torsten Fetzner for a discussion. Picture: Gabriel Schwab


Weinheim. Shalom Ramat Gan! Young people from the Israeli twin town are visiting Weinheim again these days. The 18-member group traveled to Germany as part of the student exchange program which has been building bridges between the cities and forging valuable friendships since 1986. A deep bond that has been cultivated over the past 30 years despite adverse circumstances and threats, as Albrecht Lohrbächer, "father" of the youth exchange, emphasized at a press conference in the tower room of Weinheim's town hall.


Wars and their Tributes
Wars and their tributes have been a recurring presence in the recent history of this already young suburb of Tel Aviv. As recently as 2021, two rockets found their way to Ramat Gan when Palestinian militants shelled the greater Tel Aviv area on a massive scale (we reported). The bombardment cost the life of a 55-year-old man who was not able to move to the shelter.

 

Better and Better and more Modern

Thus, 17-year-old Harel Hanoch's answer showed a macabre humor when he replied to the question of what the young people in Ramat Gan were particularly proud of: "That the city still exists at all." Joking aside, he said, the city, which is celebrating its centennial, was actually getting better and more modern, while at the same time maintaining its customs. The young people also have a not inconsiderable share in this. As teacher Smadar Caspi explained, the young Israelis have to do some form of volunteer work for their city in their afternoons - obligatory. For example, 16-year-old Idan Tayar tells of the daily flying visits to the parks, where he and his classmates watered the greenery and set plants in places. Of course, Harel adds, the youngsters also cleared the grounds of trash in the process. "The activities," said 15-year-old Hila Shliselberg, "are very important and good for the city population."


Division of society
Since the protests against the planned reform of the judiciary, not everything had been peace, joy and happiness. Albrecht Lohrbächer wanted to know from the young people what they thought about the issue. The division of society then also became clear among the three young people at the table, who got into a brief but very lively exchange. "Maybe we'd better do this together," the teacher finally said, before the trio tried to come up with very diplomatic answers away from the political debate.


What they all agreed on was that "in any case, riots causing damage, injuries or attacks on the police must be prevented," as student Hila put it. And Idan Tayar: "We had hard times in Israel with wars and Covid. The reform must not divide us, we have to manage unity." Even beyond the country's borders: In this regard, exchange programs like the one between Ramat Gan and Weinheim, as well as the soon-to-be 25-year-old partnership between the two cities, are invaluable.


Against Oblivion
Teacher Caspi and the students, who all expressed their appreciation, explains that demand for the Germany excursions was very high. "We choose participants very carefully."


It's not just a fun event, she says. Only the exemplary students who represent "the best ambassadors for our city" are allowed to go. "Everyone wants to be part of something so special, but not everyone can," agreed 17-year-old Harel. That Israel and Germany can and have come so close is far from a given.


The German people inflicted inconceivable suffering on the Jewish people during the Nazi era with the Shoah, the murder of six million people. A crime that is far from being forgotten even among the young population. "In Israel, you absorb the subject in part even from kindergarten," Smadar Caspi said. "My grandpa is a Holocaust survivor," 15-year-old Hila told me. For her, the most important thing is that both sides learn from the past. In no case it should simply be forgotten, she said.


With friendly permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten

Contacts to Ramat Gan improved

Delegation visited the Israeli twin city on the occasion of its 100th birthday

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 17.06.2023

Weinheim. The town twinning between Weinheim and Ramat Gan in Israel has existed since 1999 - 25 years next year. Just in time before this "Silver Wedding Anniversary", it has now been possible to refresh the contacts between the two municipalities.

 

A few days ago, a small Weinheim delegation headed by mayor Manuel Just visited Ramat Gan. The mayor met the deputy mayor Roi Barzilei for the first time and discussed further activities.

 

The delegation also included Just's assistant and partnership representative Gabi Lohrbächer-Gérard and city councilor Oliver Kümmerle as well as the two partnership founders and Israel experts Ulrike and Albrecht Lohrbächer.

 

Albrecht Lohrbächer is also chairman of the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association and honorary citizen of the twin town. The occasion of the visit was the 100th anniversary of the city of Ramat Gan, which was celebrated on a grand scale with a sister city meeting. Ramat Gan maintains sister city relationships in almost the entire world. Relations with Phoenix (USA) are particularly active.

 

One focus of the program was on the city's educational offerings, which provided interesting insights. Among other things, the Weinheim guests visited a school for arts and crafts, a theater school, but also a farm with interesting projects, where city children are trained in
dealing with nature and living creatures.

 

Of course, a sightseeing program was also offered, including a tour of Tel Aviv and visits to Haifa and Jerusalem. Oliver Kümmerle, head of the TSG basketball department, established personal contacts with the basketball club in Ramat Gan and has already held concrete talks about alternating visits - at best for the partnership anniversary next year. A small delegation from Weinheim led by Mayor Manuel Just (center) visited the twin city of Ramat Gan.

 

 

 

Picture: Municipality of Weinheim


- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten --

Unlimited Solidarity Required

Lecture by Oliver Vrankovic on ongoing protests in Israel on May 11th 2023

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 16.05.2023

Weinheim. "As fast as the situation is changing at the moment, it is idle to prepare notes beforehand", Oliver Vrankovic introduced his lecture on the topic "Protests in Israel - two camps face each other irreconcilably". He came to the two-castle town at the invitation of the Weinheim Ramat Gan Friendship Association.


Since 2010, Vrankovic has been working as a nursing assistant in a retirement home in Weinheim's Israeli twin city Ramat Gan. In his lecture, he pointed out several factors of social and political life in Israel as causes for the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned judicial reform.

 

Three conflicts in society

On the one hand, he said, there were the conflicts in Israeli society - between Arabs and Jews, between the religious and the secular and between Jews living in urban centers and in rural areas. While the conflict between Arabs and Jews had not played a role in everyday life in the past, it was now reappearing in military conflicts.


To understand Israel, one had to know the population structure of the country, Vrankovic pointed out: About 20 percent of the Israeli population were Arabs, 80 percent Jews. Of the 20 percent Arabs, 80 percent were in turn Muslims and 20 percent Christians. "Most Arabs are happy to live in Israel. They compare Israel with the Arab foreign countries and think that they are better off under Jewish rule after all," he explained. Others came to terms, he said and added that the rest of the Arabs were hating Israel. "Those who like living in Israel are straining to become part of Israeli society - especially Christian Arabs, who increasingly even want to do military service. Many, including Muslim Arabs, aspire to good professions," the speaker added.

 

Sympathizing with extremists
On the other hand, he said, the number of those who sympathized with extremists was growing - for example, in May 2021 during the Israel-Gaza conflict, when there had been serious riots in many Israeli cities.


Complicating matters, he said, was the fact that the current government included right-wing extremists who hated Arabs. As a further factor in the division of society, the speaker highlighted the division of Israeli society into four main groups: secular Jews, national-religious Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs.


The special position of the ultra-Orthodox, who for historical reasons often did not work or perform military service, striked a chord with the rest of the population. The original few ultra-Orthodox, about two percent of the population, today had become almost 16 percent. In the following, Vrankovic described the domestic political situation since 2011, which he said had been characterized by tactical alliances in order to abolish the privileges of the ultra-Orthodox, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, did not push through. In recent years, there had been repeated elections in which Netanyahu had been able to win a majority for the right-wing nationalist government, but had been unable to put together a coalition, so that the formation of a government had failed.


During the Corona pandemic, Netanyahu had called for unity, had formed a unity government and had split the post of prime minister: first he had been to govern, then former Defense Minister Benny Gantz. "But when the latter was to become prime minister, Netanyahu burst the government," the speaker reported. Again, the country had been paralyzed.


The speaker also reported about very personal experiences. When he had come to Israel 16 years ago, he said, there had been colleagues and patients from highly diverse ethnicities and backgrounds in the hospital he worked at - Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, Bedouins, Druze, believers, non-believers. Jews from Iraq, from Yemen, from Persia, Hungary, Morocco, Uruguay, Romania, Russia, Ethiopia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. All brought their own culture, all had been treated equally without exception. "This mix reflects Israeli society," he pointed out.


Demarcation and discrimination
In the years that followed, he said, the group of Oriental Jews from North Africa, the Mizrachim, had become more segregated. They had felt left out, their culture had not been recognized, their patriarchal Arab system had not been adopted. The result: segregation and discrimination. Today, central cities tended to vote left, while the periphery tended to vote right. This attitude had been passed down through generations.


Finally, in the 2022 elections, Netanyahu did unite the parties on the right by making concessions. New laws followed: Gifts may now be accepted by government members. Prime ministers may not be dismissed unless they are mentally ill. Other plans: The power of the public prosecutor's office had to be curtailed, parliament had to be allowed to overrule courts and influence the composition of the courts.


Do they all have the same chances?
Netanyahu, in particular, wanted to determine the judges who heard his case, he said. "On the one hand, this drives the left into the streets. In the same way, the Mizrachim protested," Vrankovic described. These identify with Aryeh Deri, the founder of the Shas party. Before he had been convicted of corruption and imprisoned, he had been able to win many votes. "Basically, the issue is whether all Jews have the same opportunities," the speaker sums it up. While the dispute over compulsory military service was "on hold," however, the conflicts between the religious and the secular were becoming increasingly heated.
His final conclusion: "We must stand In solidarity with Israel, no matter which government is in power. Because no matter what government is in power, there won't be one less rocket flying out of Gaza." gw/ist (translation bs)

 

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

A Trip to Jerusalem

Student Paul Keil reports about his year abroad in Israel

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 11./12.03.2023


Weinheim. The siblings Maja and Paul Keil share a passion: Their enthusiasm for the country of Israel. At the regulars of the Ramat Gan Circle of Friends on Thursday evening, the student reported on the exciting journey of the two and on the experiences, they gathered in Israel. Unfortunately, his sister had to cancel at short notice because she had contracted Corona.


To their regret, it had not worked out with an exchange to the twin city of Weinheim, Ramat Gan, during their school time, the student said. But after graduating from high school, the two found an opportunity to travel to Israel for ten and twelve months. In cooperation with the German Red Cross, they found the Israeli organization Alut, whose goal is to accompany and care for people with autism in their daily lives.

 

Hence, Paul Keil set off on September 1, 2021, and his sister followed him two months later. There are a total of 19 residential homes in Israel where people with autism, affectionately
called "friends," are housed and cared for by volunteers like Maja and Paul Keil. "I was responsible for 12 'friends', " the student said. He lived with four other young people in a shared apartment in Jerusalem, while Maja Keil did her volunteer service near Tel Aviv. As "pocket money" they received 1350 shekels per month - the equivalent of 350 euros. From this, the young adults financed their everyday life and food. "Food was much more expensive
in Israel than here. The first pineapple I bought there cost over ten euros," said Paul Keil.

 

Seminars in Haifa
For further training, the siblings took part in seminars in Haifa. Among other things, they learned Israeli folk dances there but also what to watch out for in the event of a rocket attack. Life in Israel is full of contrasts. "Neither of us experienced a real rocket attack. But there was one where Maja lived. Fortunately, she was already back in Germany by then," the 21-year- old reported.


In addition, they learned - albeit very poorly - Hebrew. During the entire stay, they had lessons at ten times. "Fortunately, English is widely spoken, especially in Tel Aviv, and there are also many residents who help translate. With the 'friends' we usually only needed to communicate with one word, not in complete sentences," he recounted. During their stay, the siblings also experienced how Israelis celebrate religious festivals. On Christmas Eve, they
attended a service at the Church of the Ascension in Jerusalem, which was even held in German. The siblings also visited Bethlehem during the Christmas holidays. Paul Keil told about other activities outside Jerusalem. For example, a visit to Yad Vashem, the international Holocaust memorial. The young people also went on excursions together with their "friends," for example to the Dead Sea. Looking back, this trip was a very special experience for Maja and Paul Keil.


The student is planning to go to Israel again. He made close friends there and would also like to see his former protégés in the dormitory again. "Working with 'friends' was very unusual at first, but by the end of the trip we really took them to our hearts," said Paul Keil.am (translation bs)


- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

Classification of the Protests on Judicial Reform

Schapira and Hafner speak on Israeli politics, 17 February 2023

 

Weinheimer Woche, 01.03.2023

"I think he is corrupt, vile, criminal, unfit for the job. But he is capable of securing his hold on power," says Esther Schapira about the inconsistency of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is positioned far to the right and his ability to make compromises that serve him. Since Justice Minister Yariv Levin is a hardliner in the second row who is not willing to compromise, his replacement would not necessarily be a cause for jubilation in her opinion.

The two experts on Israel, Esther Schapira and Georg Hafner, visited Tel Aviv to get an idea of the current political mood in Israel. Photo: ben

 

Schapira came to the Old Town Hall together with Georg Hafner. For the sixth time, the two journalists and authors have accepted an invitation from Albrecht Lohrbächer, the chairman of the Weinheim-Ramat Gan Friendship Association and the Friends of the Former Synagogue Hemsbach, to give a lecture. They brought along orienting assessments on the future of Israel after the recent parliamentary elections. In this context, they laid the focus on the judicial reform initiated by Netanyahu, which is a serious matter because it could topple democracy in Israel.

Broad protests

Under the reform, majority decisions in the Knesset will suffice for legislation. In the future, vetoes by the Supreme Court could be rejected by parliament with a simple majority. This would severely limit judicial review of political decisions. The composition of the body is also to change. Parliament is to take control over the nomination of judges. A blow to Israeli democracy, which already lacks a formal constitutional separation of powers. "For seven weeks, the public in Israel has been protesting against this," says Esther Schapira. She points to the broad network of protests, which includes settlers and even the business community. The government is facing economic repercussions due to the threat of an outflow of capital from the state. “The enemy” as it is titled later in the discussion this time comes from within. Schapira and Georg Hafner have just held talks on the ground in Tel Aviv with television colleagues. Their assessments have an enormous range. From the depressing "The country is totally broken," to the exact opposite with the idea that the frightening change to one's own democratic system can be reversed if it brings no advantage.

Religion as a concern

Schapira understands the concern from the audience that the current erosion of democracy could be exacerbated by politically religious forces. But she herself assumes that the realization of the "achievement of a society to separate state and religion" will prevail in the long run for Israel as an industrial high-tech location and militarily threatened country from the outside for decades. Even though the separation is particularly difficult in Israel - after all, it was founded as a Jewish state. But Schapira identifies a capacity for empathy among the people of Israel that turns the readily carried out discourse into a "fruitful dispute”. Hafner takes a somewhat more relaxed view of the success of the religious: "There's a lot of bluster involved." Both journalists hope that Israel will continue to assert itself as a liberal state. Its inconsistency and the seemingly eternally unsolvable problem of "peaceful coexistence with the Arabs without having to constantly justify and defend its existence" do not change that.

"Israel. What's it to me?"

As a contrast to the political reality presented and the conversation with the 50 interested people in the audience, Schapira read excerpts from her contribution to the book "Israel. What's it to me?" Her own identity as a child of Jewish parents who grew up in Frankfurt in the sixties. Her impressions of Israel as a country with contradictions. The good feeling of being part of an Israel with visions and the will to assert itself. The conflicts, the stance against external threats that constantly question Israel's raison d'être. Israel's parallel to Ukraine, where solidarity with a people in the struggle for freedom must be measured against the cost to the uninvolved of conflict resolution. Closing, host Albrecht Lohrbächer sums it up for the audience: "We are forced to differentiate if we want to show solidarity in the future." (ben/red)

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Woche -

On the Tracks of Jewish Life and Suffering

Guided tour with city archivist Andrea Rößler meets with great interest - Second date is also already booked out

 

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 27.09.2022

 

Weinheim. The Weinheim - Ramat Gan Friendship Association did not expect this great demand. The guided tour along the Jewish traces in Weinheim, which the association organized with city archivist Andrea Rößler, was booked out very quickly. There had already been a similar tour in the 1980s as part of the "Weinheim Walks". Now the tour newly picked up the topic.

 

t started on Friday September 23rd in the afternoon at the parking lot of the Amtshaus. The administrative building of the Deutscher Orden (Teutonic Order) including a Catholic chapel was located here. Both were dissolved and demolished in 1809. Later, the stones of the chapel were sold to the Jewish community of Lützelsachsen and used for the construction of a synagogue there. A residential building stand at its former location in the Wintergasse today.

First documentary reference in 1298

In 1298, a Jewish community was mentioned in Weinheim for the first time. According to written records, the Frankish knight Rindfleisch moved from Franconia to the Odenwald at that time and killed 79 members of the Jewish community of Weinheim. His function was unclear, but his goal was probably to destroy the Jewish communities with his "crusade". He murdered 4000 people on his way.

 

From the Amtshausplatz the tour with Andrea Rößler first led to the Judengasse (Jewish alley). Between the houses with the numbers 9 and 13 stand the remains of the Judenturm (Jewish tower). "Since no Jews lived here it is assumed that this tower could have given the alley its name." the archivist clarified. Possibly, the Jews did participate in the financing of the tower and thus acted as the name giver. The tower was one of the wall towers and was first mentioned in 1454. In the 18th century, the upper floors of the tower were removed. Nowadays, only the stump with an arrow slit is remaining. It can be seen from the Grundelbachstraße at the height of the Jet gas station.

 

A sign at the house Judengasse 15 is supposed to point at the first synagogue in 1391. However, according to Rößler the existence of this synagogue cannot be clearly proven from historical documents. "It may be that the stone with an inscription in Hebrew found came from a synagogue but we definitively do not know where it stood."

 

For a long time, the relations between Jewish and Christian Weinheimers had not been particularly good. It took until 1862 until Jews could become equal citizens of the town and were recognized as such. Then a period of prosperity followed.

 

 

Weinheim's city archivist Andrea Rößler (in purple coat) started the tour on the tracks of Jewish history at Amtshausplatz. Picture: Philipp Reimer

 

Jewish entrepreneurs

At Sigmund-Hirsch-Platz where the historic Gerberbachviertel starts, Rößler explained the story of Sigmund Hirsch, who initially leased a tannery in Weinheim in 1868 and settled in the Gerberbachviertel. Hirsch was a member of the town council, founded housing estates for workers (Scheffelstrasse and Kißlichstrasse), organized the Bauverein (building associations) which is the forerunner of today's Baugenossenschaft (building cooperative) Weinheim. He was actively involved in the social life of the town in many ways. But it were not only Jewish factory owners who shaped Weinheim. Jewish stores for hardware, flour and grain, household goods, textiles and wallpaper as well as butchers and manufactories settled along the main street and turned Weinheim into a shopping town.

 

This was followed by a view from Gerbergasse to the site of the third synagogue, which had been built in 1680 above the Gerberbachviertel at today's Hauptstraße 143 (at the Hutplatz) by the Oppenheimer family out of their own financial resources. While from the front there was nothing left pointing to the history, the indicated round arches around the windows, visible from the Gerberbachviertel, reminded of sacral elements, Rößler explained. Later, the house was used as a bakery. Today it is a residential building.

 

The Jewish community also enriched the cultural life: Through the commitment of Marx Maier and the generous financial support also from the Hirsch family, the town flourished. As its choir director, Maier laid the foundation for the Kammermusikverein (chamber music society) among other things. Together with his sister-in-law, the well-known pianist Pauline Rothschild, they shaped musical events in Weinheim with supra-regional impact. He brought the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, the composer Paul Hindemith and other renowned personalities to Weinheim. "When there was no longer Jewish life in Weinheim, many things were lost in Weinheim," says Andrea Rößler.

 

Names on the war memorial

Another stop on the tour was the war memorial on Bahnhofstraße. Erected in 1936 to commemorate those who died in World War 1, it was clearly a "National Socialist memorial," Rößler noted. The population contributed to the erection of the monument through donations - Jews also participated. However, the names of the five Jews fallen in World War 1 were not mentioned on the plaques at first. Only in 1945 - at the end of the World War 2 – their names were added including their rank.

Other stops on the tour were the fourth synagogue at today's Volkshochschule in the Ehretstraße and the Memorial to the Victims of Violence, War and Persecution.

Since the first tour was booked up so quickly, the Weinheim Ramat Gan Friendship Association has organized a second tour for 25 people at the beginning of October. ist (translation bs)

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

Andrea Rößler.jpg

A new year begins in Israel

 

Report from the twin city

Weinheimer Nachrichten, 26.09.2022

Weinheim/Ramat Gan. Together with the entire Jewish world, Weinheim's twin city Ramat Gan is also celebrating the Jewish New Year "Rosh Ha-Shanah" today, Monday, and tomorrow, Tuesday. Translated from Hebrew it means: Head of the year. One writes the year 5783 now.

As Albrecht Lohrbächer, the chairman of the Weinheim – Ramat Gan Friendship Association, writes in a press release, though being at first a religious festival, Rosh Ha-Shanah with its special symbols it is also celebrated by less religious people.

The day is celebrated in a large gathering of family and friends and starts with a meal of apple pieces dipped in honey. They are a symbol of the wish that the new year may be sweet. One wishes each other "Shana Tova", "a good year". Of course, this is also what the Weinheim – Ramat Gan Friendship Association wishes their friends in Israel!

A few days later the “Day of Atonement”, “Yom Kippur”, follows on 4th/5th October. Then the Jewish world including the State of Israel stands completely still. This year, the holiday season, typically a time of contemplation and reflection, is overshadowed by the already rather emotionally led election campaign in which the votes for the new Knesset, the Israeli parliament, are at stake. The election is scheduled for November 1st.

Test vote in the high school

Blich High School which is involved in all student exchanges with Weinheim, has been playing a special role in all elections since 1977. At that time, the students were called upon to represent the result of the Knesset election in a model vote. Since the final outcome of the election exactly matched the test vote, the Blich students have always been asked to conduct such a test run prior to a national election from thereon. Therefore, they invite high-ranking candidates in advance of the vote to have them presenting themselves in front of the students. The newspaper "Jerusalem Post" reported on heated arguments: The leader of the Social Democratic Party, Michaeli, and the leader of the "Jewish Strength" party, Ben-Gvir, who is highly controversial because of racist statements had a personal battle of words in front of the students. The result of the trial vote: The ruling center-left coalition under Prime Minister Yair Lapid received the majority.

Ramat Gans Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen paid tribute to "his" students: "For good reasons we are really proud of the amazing young people showing maturity and activism, expressing their opinions despite all the background noise and addressing the entire spectrum of opinions and political currents in the State of Israel."

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

„Our friendship survives”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a two-year break, the youth exchange between Weinheim and Ramat Gan continues - Reception in the town hall

"No war, no initifda, no pandemic can destroy our great friendship, it outlasts." This is how Albrecht Lohrbächer, the founder and motor of the town twinning between Weinheim and the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, described it at noon on Friday in Weinheim's town hall. After a break of two years due to the corona, young people from Ramat Gan are staying with Weinheim host families again. Already traditionally the Israeli guests were welcomed at the beginning of their stay at the Weinheim town hall. "Visits from our Israeli twin city are always a great honor for us," explained Weinheim's Lord Mayor Manuel Just in the Great Meeting Hall of the castle. The reception was attended by the organizers and stakeholders of the reception from both cities, including representatives of the Stadtjugendring Weinheim, which has closely accompanied the exchange since its beginnings in the 1980s, as well as Weinheim's high schools. Former Stadtjugendring chairman Wolfgang Metzeltin also attended the reception. Together with Albrecht Lohrbächer, he is one of the men of the first hour. "Fortunately, the contact between the students never broke off, even during the pandemic," OB Manuel Just was also pleased. Lohrbächer and the OB pointed out that there has been a very lively digital exchange between the young people. Just also emphasized that personal contacts between people from different countries and cultures are becoming increasingly important in politically unstable times. In his speech, Just focused on the history of the friendship between Ramat Gan and Weinheim, which resulted in an official town twinning in 1999.

 

The nucleus of this partnership was and is the youth meeting, which has existed for over 30 years; many friendships and even marriages have arisen from it. Albrecht Lohrbächer emphasized this in his welcoming speech. He referred to the close personal relationships that have helped overcome the Corona separation. The responsibles, teachers from the two High Schools, WHG and DBS, has again (together with the Stadtjugendring) put together a program for the young people - for guests and hosts - that covers a mixture of fun and education. This year, the educators accompanying the exchange (Rotem Lezter "No war, no initifda, no pandemic can destroy our great friendship, it outlasts." This is how Albrecht Lohrbächer, the founder and motor of the town twinning between Weinheim and the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, described it at noon on Friday in Weinheim's town hall. After a break of two years due to the corona, young people from Ramat Gan are staying with Weinheim host families again. Already traditionally the Israeli guests were welcomed at the beginning of their stay at the Weinheim town hall. "Visits from our Israeli twin city are always a great honor for us," explained Weinheim's Lord Mayor Manuel Just in the Great Meeting Hall of the castle. The reception was attended by the organizers and stakeholders of the reception from both cities, including representatives of the Stadtjugendring Weinheim, which has closely accompanied the exchange since its beginnings in the 1980s, as well as Weinheim's high schools. Former Stadtjugendring chairman Wolfgang Metzeltin also attended the reception. Together with Albrecht Lohrbächer, he is one of the men of the first hour. "Fortunately, the contact between the students never broke off, even during the pandemic," OB Manuel Just was also pleased. Lohrbächer and the OB pointed out that there has been a very lively digital exchange between the young people. Just also emphasized that personal contacts between people from different countries and cultures are becoming increasingly important in politically unstable times. In his speech, Just focused on the history of the friendship between Ramat Gan and Weinheim, which resulted in an official town twinning in 1999.

 

The nucleus of this partnership was the youth meeting, which has existed for over 30 years; many friendships and even marriages have arisen from it. Albrecht Lohrbächer emphasized this in his welcoming speech. He referred to the close personal relationships that have helped overcome the Corona separation. The pastor and honorary citizen of Ramat Gan has again put together ith the a program for the young people - for guests and hosts - that covers a mixture of fun and education. This year, the educators accompanying the exchange, Rotem Lezter and Smadar Caspi, will also hold technical discussions on digitization in schools - among others, Mariana Ben Yosef from the Ramat Gan City Education Office is part of the delegation.

 

Roland Kern (Issued on July 18, 2022)

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On the Banality of Evil

Hannah Arendt's great-niece Edna Brocke described the life of her ancestor after whom a street will soon be named in Weinheim.

WNOZ 30. Juni 2022

 

 

 

Weinheim. She will be the neighbor of Ramat Gan. Hannah Arendt, journalist, writer, philosopher and political scientist, Jewish. A controversial thinker and resolute intellectual. When the streets in Weinheim's construction area "Westlich Hauptbahnhof" are named, one of them will bear the name of the Israeli twin city Ramat Gan; the other will be called Hannah-Arendt-Straße. It is a signal of a thoughtful approach to German history.


Quarter of Memory


At the site of the former "Kreispflege," a cautionary artwork will commemorate the fact that the National Socialists operated a "euthanasia institution" on this site. It will be a quarter of memory culture. "This naming was an excellent decision by the municipal council," said Weinheim's mayor, Manuel Just. How Hannah Arendt was like as a thinker and writer can be read. How she lived and felt, at least the approximately 80 listeners of a lecture in the Old Town Hall now know: Dr. Edna Brocke, herself a Judaist and political scientist, awarded several times for research work in the field of anti-Semitism, grandniece of Hannah Arendt, reported about the life of her ancestor at the invitation of the Friends of Weinheim-Ramat Gan and the town. The speaker is a good friend of the Lohrbächer family. Albrecht Lohrbächer, the founder of the partnership, thanked her in his welcome speech for "the service of friends, which we appreciate very much in Weinheim". Edna Brocke, born in 1943 in Jerusalem, where her parents had fled from Nazi Germany, now lives in Krefeld. Hannah Arendt stands for the fact, says Albrecht Lohrbächer, "that naiveté in dealing with our Nazi history is completely inappropriate - and that remains so." But what was Hannah Arendt like? She was born in Königsberg in 1906, emigrated first to Paris in the 1930s, and after the war to the United States, where she died in 1975. With the term "Banality of Evil" she phrased a dictum and was misunderstood and criticized on it. It was the subtitle of the book "Eichmann in Jerusalem", in which Hannah Arendt summarized the reportages and essays she wrote about the Eichmann trial. In 1961, Adolf Eichmann, Hitler's organizer of the "Endlösung", was tried and convicted in Jerusalem. Hannah Arendt reported on it for the "New Yorker." The book and her assessments have shaped the writing of history.


Never without a cigarette


Edna Brocke accompanied her great-aunt a few times as a young student. She knew her as a resolute woman (never without a cigarette) who said "Fröschlein" to her. A controversial debate broke out about the "Banality of Evil," especially in Israel. Since she portrayed the Nazi murderer "not as a bloodthirsty devil" (Brocke), but as "frighteningly normal," as a "conscienceless bureaucrat She was accused of trivializing. But she did not want to trivialize, but to portray how far and why Jew-hatred had permeated German society.

 

Political statement


"Her analysis was a political statement," her grandniece explained. But, "The controversy over her book cut her life short," she said. Though maybe the smartest analyst of Nazi anti- Semitism, she was a "persona non grata" in Israel for a while and still is a "stumbling block" today, she says. “Younger people,” Edna Brocke sighs, "mostly do not even know who she was."

 

"Thank you very much for allowing me to briefly describe Hannah Arendt from my personal knowledge and closeness in the run-up to the two street namings." Edna Brocke wrote in the city's Golden Book after her talk. Mayor Dr. Torsten Fetzner framed the event with two songs he wrote himself - deeply moved after a visit to the concentration camp Gurs in southern France. That is where the Weinheim Jews were deported to. That was 80 years ago.

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -


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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

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Many Jews no longer feel safe

Arbeitskreis Ehemalige Synagoge: Lecture on anti-Semitism with Albrecht Lohrbächer / "Intolerable slogans" at anti-Israel rally in Mannheim

WNOZ May 17th, 2022

 

He is considered a connoisseur of the subject: Albrecht Lohrbächer, chairman of the Förderverein Ehemalige Synagoge Hemsbach, now warned in his lecture in the Leutershausen synagogue against the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Picture: Philipp Reimer

Leutershausen. They want to for the "holy war" against Israel and for killing their enemies: This is what young Palestinians chant at a demonstration in April. They wave flags and wish death to their enemies. "It was similar in Mannheim today," says Albrecht Lohrbächer. Before the chairman of the Friends of the Former Hemsbach Synagogue came to the Hirschberg Synagogue, he joined a rally that wanted to oppose the "Freedom for Palestine" movement. It had been peaceful, also because of the 200 police officers, but: "The slogans were unbearable."

Honorary citizen in Ramat Gan

Again and again during the next hour and a half he comes back to this experience, which fatally fits the topic of his lecture. "Hostility to Jews in the Middle of Society" is the title. After a two-year delay caused by Corona restrictions, Host Michael Penk is pleased that the evening can take place now. The speaker is an excellent expert on Judaism, an honorary citizen of Weinheim's twin city Ramat Gan, and the topic is more important than ever, he says: "There are 55,000 politically motivated crimes, which is the highest figure since 2001."

At 29 percent, the proportion of anti-Semitic offenses is high, he said. The Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution) warns of a radicalization of Islam and societal anti-Semitism, Lohrbächer continues: "There is a statistical increase, but many incidents are not even reported." After the images from the demo, he shows footage of flyers, graffiti, insults against a nine-year-old. When the Hemsbach synagogue was to be used as a music school, a Muslim mother protested. "My child does not go to a Jewish synagogue," she announced and deregistered her offspring.

In public and in the media, there is often a reversal of perpetrator-victim, one-sided reporting, currently in the case of the murdered Al-Jazeera reporter Shirin Abu Akleh or in absurd headlines such as "Israel threatens self-defense". Lohrbächer laments, "No state in the world is more hated, accused and slandered than Israel." Israel gets more UN-resolutions than some dictatorships and is accused of threatening world peace. When Islamists take to the streets, you see signs with texts like "Destroy Zionists." "Heil Hitler" or "Jews belong gassed" was written on a flipchart at Mannheim University in 2018 - a stark contrast to the 10,000 commemorative events held annually at schools or churches.

"What happened?" the speaker asks. His guess: In Germany, many people choose hatred of Israel as a "detour" for anti-Semitism. The causes of the evil range widely: From the statement that Jews crucified Jesus, still heard in evangelical or conservative Catholic circles, to the racist anti-Semitism of the 19th century and even to the Muslim hostility that Hitler helped stir up starting in 1937 and conspiracy myths such as the legend of the "Wise Men of Zion" that originated in Russia. Currents in Turkish-Arab circles, some influenced by Erdogan, are gaining influence. Nevertheless, in the work with refugees the issue of anti-Semitism plays no role, he said.

All this has consequences: In Germany, France and the U.S., there are more and more Jews who are planning to emigrate to Israel because they are afraid conditions might become unbearable. Town twinning could be a way out, but also the project days of the initiative "Meet a Jew", a research and information center against anti-Semitism, like the one he is organizing himself this week with young people for who can also take part in an exchange program. He also asks for critical attention to calls for boycotts like BDS, which target companies with Israeli subsidiaries. "These are virtually all," he explains during the Q&A session during which many of the more than 30 visitors speak up and also ask controversial questions like the one about the settlement policy. When it comes to the international situation, Lohrbächer returns to the speech that then-Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave in the Bundestag in 2020. He said then, "If Jews can't live freely here, they won't live free of fear anywhere in the world." Stk 

- Published with the kind permission of Weinheimer Nachrichten -

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Speech Mr. Lohrbächer to the vigil to the Ukraine war

 

 

 

WEINHEIM, 03/03/2022

Source: Translated speech

Dear friends,

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, ramatgan@gmx.de)

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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

WEINHEIM, 02/22/2022

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 -

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WHEN STREETS CONNECT -

RAMAT GAN IS ALSO PLANNING A WEINHEIM STREET

WEINHEIM, 09/23/2021

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.”

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TWIN CITY GETS STREET NAME IN WEINHEIM

WEINHEIM, 09/27/2021

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

WEINHEIM, 07/30/2021

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)

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Picture: Fritz Kopetzky

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