The most memorable quotes from the 1700 Years of Jewish Life in Germany opening ceremony

On 21 February 2021, the #2021JLID Year of Celebration launched with an official opening ceremony that was broadcast on Das Erste, as well as on various other channels. The viewing and listening audience was treated to a kaleidoscope of what makes up Jewish life in Germany today. Jewish young people shared their perspectives, their view of the past, and their expectations of the future. 

Where do we stand today? Where are we headed in the future? And how well do we know each other? In their addresses and remarks, the evening’s public figures and prominent guests touched on questions such as these. Here you can read their powerful and moving remarks – in the order in which they were broadcast:

Alexander Wertmann, actor: “To me, being Jewish means always having to repeat what it means to be Jewish.”

Abraham Lehrer, Chair of the Synagogue Community of Cologne, Founding Member of the 321 society: “To our digital viewers, I am especially pleased by your attendance. By tuning in, you are affirming your interest in Jewish life in our country. This is an important testimony of your solidarity with the Jewish community.”

Susan Sideropoulous, actress: “Since the days of my childhood, I have seen no other image than a synagogue with police out front – and for my kids it is the same. I believe my children thought until recently that police just stood guard at every school.”

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, #2021JLID Year of Celebration patron: “The remembrance of 1700 years of our checkered history together teaches us: The Federal Republic of Germany can only be said to have entirely come into its own when Jews feel entirely at home here. Ensuring this is the mandate of 1700 years of history of Jewish life in Germany!”

Ben Salomo, author and rapper: “Our grandparents gave this country a chance after the Shoah. There is no way to overestimate the value of this leap of faith.”

Reuven Rivlin,  President of Israel: “While we will never forget the tragedies of the past, we wish to emphasize our shared heritage, the contributions of German Jews to German society, and the deep friendship between Germany and the state of Israel.”

Armin Laschet, NRW Minister President: “Let’s talk about the great achievements of our Jewish fellow citizens for our country, for our democracy, for our culture, for our prosperity, and for the cohesion of our society!  And let’s do it all with respect and pride and confidence – so that Jewish life in Germany can again become taken for granted […]”

Jonah, pupil: “All I really want is peace and an end to antisemitism.”

Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews: “If we can show across society how diverse Jewish life is, if Jews are no longer viewed as foreign, we can finally eradicate many prejudices once and for all. I am optimistic: In the same way that we will master the corona pandemic, we can also immunize the populace more effectively against antisemitism.”

Henriette Reker, Mayor of the City of Cologne: “My parents were among the enablers of National Socialism because they did not have the courage to stand up – this haunted them as a result for the rest of their lives. That is part of what moves me to advocate a clear position and to remind us all that antisemitism and racism are no foundation for peaceful coexistence. Here with us, everyone is welcome.”

Shelly Kupferberg, journalist and moderator: “Listening is always a good idea.”

You can stream the opening ceremony in the ARD-MEDIATHEK and on the PHOENIX YOUTUBE CHANNEL.