27.08.2010

Ansprache Ronald Lauder, Präsident des World Jewish Congress

HONOURED RABBIS
MINISTER PRESIDENT TILLICH
FRAU PRESIDENT KNOBLOCH
HERR DR. GRAUMANN
HERR KRAMER

DEAR FRIENDS,

ELEVEN YEARS AGO, I BUMPED INTO RABBI JOSH SPINNER IN THE ELEVATOR AT THE GM BUILDING IN MANHATTAN WHERE MY OFFICES ARE LOCATED. JOSH WAS NEW WITH MY FOUNDATION AT THE TIME, AND I WAS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO CHALLENGE HIM.

I ASKED HIM WHAT THE FOUNDATION WAS DOING IN LEIPZIG. THE QUESTION SEEMED OBVIOUS TO ME.

AFTER ALL, LEIPZIG IS A PLACE WHERE ONE WANTS TO BE ACTIVE. THE CITY IS INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN FOR MANY REASONS:

-A THRIVING ART SCENE

-A LEGENDARY ORCHESTRA

-THE TRADE FAIR

-AND, OF COURSE, THE CRITICAL ROLE THE CITY PLAYED IN THE DEMONSTRATIONS LEADING TO THE FALL OF THE GDR.

ALSO, LEIPZIG HAD A FAMOUS, THRIVING JEWISH COMMUNITY BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST.

AND FINALLY, THE JEWISH IMMIGRATION FROM THE FORMER SOVIET UNION TO GERMANY HAD OPENED NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR THE LEIPZIG COMMUNITY.

THAT IS WHY MY QUESTION IN THE ELEVATOR SEEMED OBVIOUS, AT LEAST TO ME.

JOSH RESPONDED, HOWEVER, THAT HE HAD NEVER VISITED LEIPZIG, AND THAT THE FOUNDATION WAS NOT ACTIVE THERE.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, THIS WAS NOT THE ANSWER I WAS LOOKING FOR.

ONE WEEK LATER, JOSH WAS HERE IN LEIPZIG, MEETING YOUNG PEOPLE AND PREPARING A PROPOSAL FOR THE FOUNDATION.

I COULD NOT HAVE KNOWN THEN, THAT MY QUESTION IN THE ELEVATOR ELEVEN YEARS AGO WOULD BRING ME HERE TODAY.

THERE ARE FOUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THIS SYNAGOGUE WHOM I WISH TO ADDRESS NOW:

SHLOMO- YOU WERE BORN IN TASHKENT. YOU CAME TO LEIPZIG WITH YOUR MOTHER AND SISTER EIGHT YEARS AGO. COULD YOU HAVE GUESSED THAT YOU WOULD BE HERE TODAY, A STAR STUDENT AT AN HISTORIC INSTITUTION, PREPARED TO TAKE ON A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN JEWISH LIFE?

ITA- YOU ARE HERE TODAY AS SHLOMO´S WIFE, BUT EVERYONE WHO KNOWS YOU CAN CONFIRM THAT YOU ARE A LEADER AND AN EDUCATOR IN YOUR OWN RIGHT. YOU WERE BORN IN KIEV, AND CAME TO OSNABRÜCK WITH YOUR PARENTS AND BROTHER. COULD YOU HAVE PREDICTED THIS DAY?

MOSHE- YOU WERE BORN IN VILNIUS, AND MOVED TO BERLIN WITH YOUR FAMILY AS A YOUNG BOY. YOU JOINED OUR YESHIVA EARLY, JUST AFTER YOUR BAR MITZVAH, AND IMMEDIATELY SHOWED GREAT PROMISE. STILL, YOU COULD NOT HAVE KNOWN THEN OF THE OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE NOW- THE CHALLENGE OF LEADERSHIP AT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT JEWISH SCHOOLS IN EUROPE.

CHANA, MRS. BAUMEL- YOU HAVE COME THE FURTHEST, FROM OMSK IN SIBERIA. YOU ARRIVED IN BAVARIA WITH YOUR MOTHER AND OLDER BROTHER. IT WAS YOUR BROTHER WHO BROUGHT YOU TO THE PROGRAMS OF THE FOUNDATION, AND EVENTUALLY TO BERLIN. TODAY, YOU ARE A TEACHER, COMMUNITY ORGANISER, AND ROLE MODEL TO MANY YOUNG JEWISH WOMEN. COULD YOU HAVE GUESSED?

OF COURSE, NONE OF YOU COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS DAY. YET I AM CERTAIN ALL FOUR OF YOU ARE HAPPY AND THANKFUL TO BE HERE.

I, TOO, COULD NOT HAVE PREDICTED THIS DAY- THAT A QUESTION IN AN ELEVATOR WOULD LEAD ME HERE, TO THIS WONDERFUL CELEBRATION. AND I, TOO, AM HAPPY AND THANKFUL.

DEAR SHLOMO AND ITA, MOSHE AND CHANA- THIS IS MY MESSAGE TO YOU:

YOU CANNOT KNOW WHERE YOU WILL END UP. YOU CANNOT KNOW WHERE THE QUESTIONS YOU ASK WILL LEAD YOU.

BUT YOU CAN TRY AND ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

YOU CAN TRY AND SEE THE WORLD WITH YOUR EYES OPEN, TO THINK ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU AND WHAT YOUR ROLE IN IT OUGHT TO BE.

YOU CAN TRY AND SENSE OPPORTUNITY, AND THEN, WHEN OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF, YOU CAN TRY AND USE IT TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE.

IF YOU DO SO, YOU CAN THEN HOPE AND PRAY THAT YEARS LATER YOU FIND YOURSELVES IN GOOD PLACES- PLACES FILLED WITH MEANING AND PURPOSE, WHERE YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO FEEL HAPPY AND THANKFUL.

I AM PROUD OF YOU, AND WISH YOU MUCH SUCCESS.

THANK YOU.

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