Malka is seventen-years-old and has been living with her parents in a high rise apartment block in the east German city of Schwerin since the family left Belarus in 2005. Malka is a diligent student at school, but still has time to spend with her friends, the few other young Jews in town.
But Malka’s interest in Judaism goes deeper than meeting other young Jews, and like nearly all other Jewish teenagers from the FSU, she cannot turn to her parents, who, because of Communist rule, learned almost nothing themselves.
Which is why nearly every Friday Malka boards an afternoon train for Hamburg, makes her way to our regional center where she attends Friday night services and helps prepare a Shabbat dinner. Malka also spends Saturday discussing the week’s Torah portion and at night, socializes with like minded Jewish youngsters from all over northern Germany.
On Sunday evenings, when Malka boards the train for home, she returns feeling more knowledgeable, closer to her religion, and more enthusiastic than ever. Later in the week, she will share that knowledge and enthusiasm with her less affiliated friends.
This happens weekend after weekend with dozens of Malka’s peers. They are drawn to our Hamburg regional center from Rostock, Lübeck, Bremen and Hannover. And they flock to our Leipzig regional center from Chemnitz, Dresden, Erfurt and Jena. Then they return home, carrying inside them an evergrowing commitment to continue building Jewish life in Germany.