Monday, March 28, 2011

3 hours in Munich….

Marienplatz in MunichEven though I lived in Germany for a year in ‘95-‘96, the idea of a significance Jewish presence there still leaves me in wonderment.

And the idea that a major synagogue and community center would be located 200 meters from the historic epicenter of Munich, the Marienplatz really boggles my mind.

Yet, that is the situation and the new synagogue, designed by world-famous architect, Daniel Liebskind, as well as the community center next to it, was one of my highlights of the 3 hours of touring I had in Munich over the course of two days.

Munich has a special place in my history because that is where my years of travel began.

20 years ago, I decided to major in History and with that came the requirement to study a foreign language. 

Jeremy and Tula--17 years laterInspired by the desire to create some controversy, I chose German and my life hasn’t been the same since.

After 3 years of study in Baltimore, I decided that the best and only way to really learn the language was to go to Germany.  I did a 6 week summer program at the University of Regensburg.

Prior to my trip, a mutual friend introduced me to Tula Daunderer who becamenew Synagogue and Community Center in Munich (1) my German “host mother.” She picked me up as a fresh 21 year old at the airport, helped me acclimate and we’ve been friends ever since.

So, reuniting with her (I had seen her once about 8-9 years ago in DC), was a huge highlight as well.

new Synagogue and Community Center in Munich (2)A visit to Marienplatz and the famous Glockenspiel (moving characters on the clock) pretty much topped it all off (unless you count the riding on the subway system….as efficient as ever.)

Actually, that’s not quite true.

new Synagogue and Community Center in Munich (3)The NFO and I have some friends, Ariella and Yaron, who are in Munich for a 3 year stint (they are Israelis). As luck would have it, they lived 4 minutes away from the hotel where I was staying, so I managed a quick 25 minute visit with them, which propelled them into an elite and unique group: people I have seen on 3 different continents (joining them are Yitz, Albert, & Simone Moses and Laura Sheppard Brant).

Kira and Dad waiting for the S-BahnAs a bonus, my dad and sister were tagging along on the trip, so I had there company for a bit as well (though I gladly let them sit in Economy Class while I enjoyed the perks of Business class Winking smile

Munich offers a cosmopolitan experience, but stoked in a Romantic Bavarian past. It’s a very walkable city and easy to get around, but as with all things travel (for me, at least), it is about the people and the experiences. In this respect, the Munich visit was a big win.

Even better, I discovered that my German skills haven’t waned that much.

Best of all, it gave me the chance to reflect on where I was 17 years ago on my first visit and where I am today. 

Call it the Munich Timewarp.

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