by Karine Eve Brown
Germany – Through her own interpretation of a school social project, 16-year old Talia Rosenkranz of Berlin brought together 3-4 generation family members in order to celebrate the lighting of the 5th night’s candle. The Hanukkah event proved a positive step towards gapping the generations and embracing the miracle of Hanukkah. “I organized this event to allow families and their friends to celebrate together,” said Talia, “and it was important to me to combine the festival with Taglit-Birthright Israel’s Jewish world changing concept, as only very few people in Germany are aware of it.” The young Talia, who attends the Brandenburg International School in Berlin, spends much of her time as a counselor at the Zionistische Jugend Deutschland (ZJD), and comes to Israel every summer to visit family and spend time in the country.
Moreover, organizations such as Taglit-Birthright Israel and the ZJD work hard to bring the Jewish communities together to teach youth about what makes them Jewish and the importance of connecting to Israel. Regardless of where they are located, if there is no “passing down” of heritage and traditions, there is no Jewish future.
“One of our main goals is to combat assimilation worldwide and to make sure there is permanent continuation of Jewish life and a thriving Jewish community in Germany,” explained Mr. Gidi Mark, the CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “The only way assimilation can be combated is if we all work together for the same cause.”
“The Jewish communities are largely spread across Germany and some communities are fairly small. It is for this precise reason that together with our partners in Germany: the Zentralrat der Juden and the ZWST, we are able to work with all the local communities to build young Jewish leaders who will significantly contribute to a flourishing Jewish future,” said Mr. Mark.
In order to be “a light unto the nations” we must first be a light unto ourselves, and Talia showed that through commitment and lots love we can all make it possible. With cheer in her voice, Talia spoke about the evening that filled the room with light, “I was able to bring together over 90 guests and raised money I will be donating to Taglit-Birthright Israel in Germany to support their efforts to involve as many young German Jews as possible in the life changing educational trip. Together we all lit candles, sang Hanukkah songs with music from a live piano, ate latkes and sufganiot. For many of my younger guests, this was the first time celebrating Hanukkah and I am happy they were able to come and celebrate not only with me and for my cause, but with their very own families. I hope this sparks interest to know more about their heritage and to pass the traditions on to the future.”