Today would have been the day.
Today was the day Vickie and I were to begin six exciting weeks of teaching in German High Schools about the Shoah, and when I would be speaking in churches and synagogues.
I was also particularly looking forward to celebrating our 46th anniversary on June 9 with our hosts Pastors Ursula Sieg and Martin Pommerening at the exquisite Fuchsbau (Fox Den) Restaurant. We loved the idea of celebrating our anniversary in a restaurant we could imagine was named after us.
The next day we were to travel to Berlin where I had been invited to participate in the ordination ceremony at the Abraham Geiger College, I was also to teach a three-hour seminar there and lead the service and deliver the sermon at Friday night worship.
From there our schedule called for us to travel to Leipzig, the city where my father was arrested on Kristallnacht to take part in a week long series of events for descendants of Leipzig’s once thriving Jewish community.
My bittersweet birthday present to myself on March 16 was to cancel our entire trip. At that time I wondered if I was being prudently proactive or presumptuously premature. After two more weeks went by it was clear that cancelling was the only decision to make.
It feels strange to be staying in Sanibel now, as our time in Germany has become so important to Vickie and me as part of our quest to do our small part to try to make the world a better place.
For the past five years we spent between five and ten weeks there doing the things I described above. Before coming to Sanibel in 2017 we were there for ten weeks in the fall. There I had the privilege of conducting services for the High holy Days in Kiel, Bad Segeberg and Freiburg. When we accepted the invitation to serve Bat Yam Temple of the Islands here in Sanibel, the expectation, of course, was that we would be here for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. So we switched our program to the late spring and shortened it considerably.
This would have been the first year our hosts, Pastors Ursula Sieg and Martin Pommerening would have hosted us in their new home in Bad Oldesloe and the first we did not spend in their previous home in Bad Segeberg. We looked forward to experiencing their new surroundings and to exploring a new town in picturesque Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost of Germany’s 16 states.
A few weeks after cancelling the trip I stopped playing tennis even though I know the warm sunshine and vigorous exercise did me a world of good. That was another bittersweet present I gave to myself.
Just today, Vickie and went to the courts for the first time in a month and hit for about half an hour.
We came in contact with no one and wiped our rackets down when we finished. It is nice to be back on the courts, and I will follow the United States Tennis Association guidelines to play prudently.