An emotional moment: Vickie presenting her mother, Stefanie Steinberg, an honorary diploma from the Holstenschule in Neumünster. Stefanie, 93, is an artist in San Francisco. Her life and work were the subjects of an extensive museum-quality exhibit–put together by Pastor Ursula Sieg–at the Holstenschule. Students studied the exhibit and through Stefanie learned much about Judaism and the Holocaust. Because Stefanie had to leave school when her family fled from the Nazis, she never finished high School. In gratitude for how much she added to the students’ knowledge, the school awarded Stefanie this special honorary diploma which Vickie presented her at Shabbat dinner this evening!
Stefanie was deeply moved by this presentation. So were Vickie and I and our two older children, Leo and Sarah, who were present. Herr Arno Engelmann, Principal of the Holstenschule discussed this possibility with Vickie and me before we left Germany. He enthusiastically pursued this idea and recently sent the documentation to our home in West Hartford. We waited to make the presentation until we could all be together with Stefanie in San Francisco.A lovely Shabbat Eve dinner at the home of our daughter Sarah with four of our grandchildren present was the perfect setting. The grandchildren, Zachary, micah, Jeremy and Noa, are still too young to appreciate the significance of this moment. One day, though, they will, and I pray it will inspire them as much as it does Vickie and me and their parents.
It has been my privilege to share much in this forum about our trip to Germany: The Holstenschule exhibit, speaking in Leipzig on Kristallnacht, speaking at schools, synagogues and ten other churches. Each of these experiences had exquisite meaning for Vickie and me.
Still, I say without equivocation: If all we were able to do in Germany was to arrange for this dramatic moment of reconciliation for Vickie’s remarkable Mom, Stefanie Steinberg, then the entire trip would have been worthwhile.