04/03/2016 24 Adar Alef 5776
The rabbis, dressed in traditional rabbinical garb, stood in a large semicircle in front of the Gate, facing a delegation of Jewish youngsters, aged 12 and 13, all of whom wore yarmulkes on their heads and had tzitzit showing from under their shirts. They were students of the city’s local religious school. A contingent of reporters from various local media outlets stood by, covering the event, while passersby and tourists stopped to watch what was happening.
Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal, rabbi of Berlin’s Jewish community, opened the event with remarks in German, declaring, “We who stand here today are evidence to our continued survival despite the horrendous events that the Jewish nation experienced in Germany in the recent past. We are filled with a sincere sense of gratitude to this country for enabling us to live here, to build and maintain our Jewish way of life.”
Rabbi David Gewirtz, principal of the Talmud Torah school in Berlin, addressed the gathering, also speaking in German: “Illustrious Torah leaders such as Rabbi Yehonasan Eybeshutz, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Ashkenazi (better known as the Chacham Tzvi), Rabbi Yechezkel Katznelbogen (author of Knesses Yechezkel), and Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Horowitz lived in Hamburg and led its beautiful Jewish community. Yet the fact that I am here now is a miracle in itself. My grandfather and grandmother lived through the Holocaust here, and they lost those who were dearest to them. They lost parents, other family members, their friends and their home. Those memories are still fresh. It is Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal’s tireless efforts to spread Torah knowledge and to establish a Jewish school in this city that have accomplished the unbelievable. It is he who brought me here, so that I can spread Judaism and teach another generation of children and youths how to fulfill the mitzvos.”
Two of the youths, both with large yarmulkes on their heads, spoke to the large crowd in both German and Hebrew about what they learn in school; they also mentioned the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe: “Our presence here is the response to all anti-Semites. We do not fear you, and we are not afraid of what the future will bring. We go through life proudly and fearlessly displaying that we are Jews.”
This emotional event ended with dozens of rabbis dancing together in the square.