Sixteen HUC-JIR students will spend 12 days in June in Berlin and Dresden as part of the German government's outreach program to American Jewish students and young professionals. Students from all three stateside campuses, including rabbinical, cantorial, education, and communal service students, will participate. The program is sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany.
"We want to show American students and young professionals modern Germany and Jewish life in the new Germany," said Lars Gerrit Leymann, Consul for Culture, Press, and Legal Affairs from the German Consulate General's Office in Los Angeles, who spent an afternoon with HUC-JIR/LA students preparing them for the trip.
Established in October 2007, "Germany Close Up" provides Jewish Americans with the opportunity to visit sites of historical events, partake in aspects of contemporary Jewish life in Germany, and meet with Germans of all backgrounds.
HUC-JIR students will interact with leading local experts on German Jewry, visit a concentration camp and the Wannsee Villa (site of the Wannsee Conference), and take a guided tour of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in addition to a tour of the Bundestag, the German National Parliament building.
Rebecca Reice, who is completing her second year of rabbinical school at HUC-JIR/LA, says, "In the years leading up to and during World War II, Germany was the epicenter of the destruction of my family and my people. Today's Germany, lead by Chancellor Angela Merkel with a rapidly growing Jewish population, is not the same Germany. I believe that I am ready to meet modern Germany."