Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jewish New Year in Munich, Germany, in September 1970

I’m working on a sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – when Sharon and Robert are stationed with the U.S. Army in Munich, Germany. In honor of Rosh Hashanah, the two-day Jewish New Year that has just ended, I’m posting this description from my work-in-progress about Sharon and Robert’s first Rosh Hashanah in Germany in September 1970 soon after they get to Munich.

Sharon doesn’t know Nina well enough to trust saying anything negative to her about this briefing. Although Nina’s husband was probably ROTC, he may decide to make the army a career. As Sharon has learned from her time at Ft. Knox, Southerners have strong opinions about serving in the military.

“Do you want to go downtown shopping tomorrow?” Nina asks Sharon as they head back in the car.

“Thanks for asking,” Sharon says, “but I can’t go tomorrow. Another time would be great.”

“Are you expecting a shipment of goods tomorrow?”

Sharon shakes her head, trying to figure out what to say.

Finally she says, “Tonight is the two-day Jewish New Year -- Rosh Hashanah – starts. I’ll be at services tomorrow.”

Nina nods. “Won’t it feel strange to worship in a country that brutally murdered six million Jews?”

Sharon is surprised that Nina knows this. And, although Nina is driving, she must have caught a glimpse of Sharon’s surprised expression.

“Oh, yes, I know about the Nazis’ Final Solution. Gerald has a Ph.D. in modern European history.”

“I kind of feel good about celebrating the holiday here in Germany.” Sharon says. “Hitler’s gone and tonight there will be Jews in Germany praying.”

Sharon doesn’t add that she is looking forward to the special aura of the High Holidays – of being temporarily removed from military life and worrying about Vietnam tours and Soviet nuclear bombs.

Together on Rosh Hashanah the congregation will recite prayers asking to be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year. And 10 days from now, when they confess their sins as a community on Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement -- and ask to be sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year, Sharon will pray fervently that this will be true for Robert for this year and for many, many more years to come.

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