Remember and Encounter

For almost ten years, two German schools, Welfen High School in Ravensburg and Weingarten High School, have partnered with the Amal-Comprehensive-High-School in Nahariya, Israel. Every two years an exchange is held; in the autumn, the Israelis visit their German partners, and at Easter of the following year, 11th and 12th grade German students travel to Israel.

In contrast to student exchange programs with other countries, the point of this Israel exchange is not only to get to know a different culture, another country and a new mentality. The partnership with this Israeli school is concerned with much more. Each participating student group up to now has put forth its own summary of the meaning and goals of the exchange, in the form of an apt and concise motto.

The group from last year’s exchange chose the theme "Remember and Encounter", to express the fact that there are two aspects to this partnership: a remembrance of the burden of the past, and an encounter, a coming together of Germans and Jews in the present.

The 14-day home stay with the families gives opportunity for contact with older persons as well, many of whom experienced or fled the Nazi terror themselves, and/or lost friends and relatives in the Holocaust. The students also confront these painful issues when their Israeli partners come to Germany; visiting the hellish concentration camp Dachau together and talking with survivors and victims help them take an honest look at the future.

Unlike the usual Israel tourists, these German students prepare for an entire year before the trip, in the Israeli Work Group, headed by the husband and wife team Ursula and Werner Wolf. Thus they experience the country much more intensely. During their trip of over two weeks, they live with an Israeli family, taking part in family festivals, and experiencing religious and daily life. They also take part in school classes, meet witnesses of the Nazi period, and have time to experience the special atmosphere and unique aspects of this country.

During both the preparation and the post-processing of their trip to Israel, the students of both the Welfen and Weingarten High Schools also made a challenging and professional quality documentary film on the life of Pinchas Erlanger, a Jew living near Nahariya. Erlanger was born in Ravensburg, and found a home in Israel at the end of a long and difficult journey. Making the film involved interviewing Erlanger’s old classmates in Upper Swabia about their time together, researching in archives and at important places in Pinchas Erlanger’s childhood in Ravensburg, and making authentic pictures. In Israel, the film team interviewed Pinchas and his wife. With all this material, they tell the vivid and moving life story of a Jew who fled Nazi Germany, and today plays an active role in this exchange program.

Another project records photographic impressions of today’s Israel. The purpose was not to capture the common, albeit inviting tourist highlights, but rather the small, often overlooked things „on the periphery“, which are only apparent when you look closely, and reveal more about real life in Israel than any ruin or church, beautiful as it may be. Entitled „Israel mit fremden Augen gesehen“ (“Israel in the Eye of the Beholder”), this photo exhibition was presented to the public. The students also produced an Internet presentation showing the activities and goals of the Israel exchange. Individual experiences students had during the exchange were included in the reader „Kultur, Komik und kulinarische Köstlichkeiten" (“Culture, Comedy and Culinary Delicacies”), which also includes many Jewish recipes and examples of that unique Jewish humor.

Both the reader „Kultur, Komik und kulinarische Köstlichkeiten" (DM 15,-) and the video „Flucht in die Heimat. Pinchas Erlanger – einer von vielen..." (“Fleeing toward Home. Pinchas Erlanger – one of many …”) (DM 20,-) are available from the Israeli Work Group.


Welfen-Gymnasium Ravensburg and Gymnasium Weingarten
info [at] israelaustausch [dot] de
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