"If not now, when?": Germany Close Up Alumni Meet Dr. Ruth
Enlarge image Germany Close Up Alumni and Dr. Ruth (© GKNY) As the special guest of the third annual Germany Close Up Alumni Meeting on May 24, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, better known as "Dr. Ruth," took to the stage at the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI), captivating an audience of Germany Close Up Alumni with stories from her fascinating past and authoritative advice from her immensely successful career as America's most prolific and influential psychosexual therapist.
The Alumni Meeting, organized by the Leo Baeck Institute New York and the German Consulate General, brought together over 100 participants and friends of the Germany Close Up Program, along with its Director, Dr. Dagmar Pruin and Executive Director of LBI, Carol Kahn-Strauss. Germany Close Up has served over 700 Jewish American students and young professionals by giving them an opportunity to experience modern Germany through visits to German historical sites, meeting with Germans of all backgrounds, and actively partaking in Jewish life in Germany. It offers programs organized in close cooperation with major Jewish organisations in the US, such as AJC, ADL and Hillel, in addition to open programs for individual applicants. Germany Close Up is administered by Neue Synagoge Berlin Foundation – Centrum Judaicum.
For many participants, this is the first trip to Germany, often as the first in their families to do so. Their experiences create strong bonds between participants and forms a basis for a deeper interest in Germany. With yearly alumni events, the Consulate General in New York tries to reconnect participants with each other and with Germany.
The evening with the famous media personality and author was more than just a regular alumni reunion. In her remarks as well as in an animated Q &A session with Consul General Horst Freitag, Dr. Ruth shared her remarkable life path as the child of Orthodox Jewish parents in Germany, sent to Switzerland at the age of 10 by her mother to escape the Holocaust. Drawing from her own life experiences, her message to the young people was clear: don't wait until you are old; act now. She quoted Hillel, the historical Jewish religious figure, “If I am not for myself, who can be for myself? And if I am only for myself who am I? If not now, when?”
The inspiring evening was opened by New York-based German pianist Jo Junghanss, whose ten-minute medley piece "From Bach to Monk," arranged especially for the alumni event, achieved a fusion of German Baroque and New York jazz.
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