So sad to leave Israel! I could have used another week at least. But God filled me to overflowing, and it was time to move on.
After finally connecting with Megan in Frankfurt, Germany we headed to the Frankfurt Judengasse, or the Jewish Ghetto, which was initially build in 1462. Initially Jewish ghettos were the outgrowths of segregated ghettos by surrounding Christian authorities.Later, the Nazi's used ghettos for the purpose of segregation, persecution, terror, and exploitation of Jews, mostly in Eastern Europe. This ghetto in Frankfurt was one of the oldest ghettos in Germany, and was completely demolished in World War II by the Nazis.
The decision to build an administrative complex in the same area triggered a public discussion as to what should be done with the archaeological remains, leading to an excavation in 1977. The foundations of 19 buildings were found and five of these can be seen at the "Museum Judengasse" which was incorporated below and into the new building. This is what Megan and I were able to see, and it was absolutely sobering. The map below shows the street the ghetto existed on before the Jews were driven out and taken to concentration camps. It was the poorest, most deplorable place anyone could have lived, in regards to availability of water, drainage and sewage. The second picture is from the 1800s.
The next photos show the actual rock foundations of rooms, as well as ancient mikvehs (mikwe in German),baths used for ritual cleansing in Judaism.
The pictures below shows a memorial in the back of what was the ghetto, a memorial to the 11,134 Jewish Frankfurt citizens killed during the Holocaust. Each block shows the person's name, and which concentration camp they were taken to. Ann Frank's name was among those on this wall, but we didn't find that out until later and didn't know to look for it.
That night we trained to Arcy, France, and stayed with the Bridgette and Lucien Castera. Arcy is a tiny village on the outskirts of Auxerre (Au-Sair). The Casteras minister to people in this area of France, which is a spiritually dark place. They welcome families into their home for meals and Bible Studies, while running a bed and breakfast, specifically open to Christian groups, pastors and ministers as well as to the general public. It was an absolute joy to be loved and taken care of for two days by this sweet family, and I learned much about the spiritual condition of this part of France.
Then, we were off to meet Guy Athia, who is the director of Chosen People Ministries, France, for another Shabbat dinner. There is too much to write of what I learned about the situation in France regarding the Jewish people and anti-Semitism. It is on the rise at an alarming rate. Jewish families are increasingly buying property or flats in Israel. According to Guy, it is pretty clear there are thousands among the French Jewish community who are planning to emigrate to Israel at some point in the near future -- if they haven't already left.
Scripture speaks of a time when the Jewish people will return to the land, initiated by God alone. The prophet Isaiah spoke of God's plan to bring His people back to the land of Israel, saying: "He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel, He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12). Although terrible, these anti-Semitic activities intended to harm the Jewish people, whether in France or the rest of Europe, in Israel or anywhere else in the world, are only happening because God is in control of all things. As Joseph assured his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Gen. 50:20). It is because of persecution that the Jewish people are fleeing France, and returning to the land promised to them by God through Abraham: "Now the LORD had said to Abram (Abraham): ‘Leave your country, your family and your father’s house and go to a land that I will show you’. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3).
God is beyond words.
Tonight, Christmas Eve, Megan and I are in Nuremburg. Everything has shut down for the next two days. We hit the Christmas Market (beautiful!), and then the grocery store, stocked up on some food, and are relaxing watching a movie tonight.
I am so thankful for each of you and hope you are enjoying this season, celebrating the birth of Jesus -- Immanuel, the "with us" God.
Karen (& Megan)