May 18, Heidelberg, Germany
"At this point/place stood the synagogue of the holy community of Heidelberg that was destroyed by the cruel people on the 10th of November, 1938."
This stone represents where the holy ark, containing the holy scriptures, once stood. The hand written Torah scrolls were burnt by the students of the University of Heidelberg.
The roads have always been known as potential trouble spots, from time immemorial. To this day we have a special Travelers Prayer we say whenever we set out on a journey. This prayer was written in the Babylonian Talmud about 2,000 years ago but probably dates back even earlier.
"May it be Your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that you lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, that we are supported in peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts on the trip, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessings in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, who hears prayer."
This is such a given among traditional Jews that there are volunteers at the airport who give out little cards with this blessing. And on our safe return home we recite a prayer of thanksgiving that we have returned safely from our journey. Clearly the fear of the road, of unknown places, has always been with us. And while "wild beasts" may no longer be a problem in most places, evil people certainly are.
I arrive in Heidelberg and almost immediately a man rides up to me on his bicycle, Shalom, he greets me. He sees that I am obviously Jewish and wants to warn me that here this could be a problem. He tells me of an elderly Jew who lives in Heidelberg who had a bucket of cold water dumped on him from a top floor. I thank him for the warning, he says, Shalom, Lehitraot, Peace, and see you later.
Clearly this man has learned some Hebrew and clearly he is a good and caring man. I am delighted to meet him. Naturally I am always on guard for attacks and I am aware that I am a very visible target as a clearly identifiable Jew. The road; we must be prepared.
Many take out expensive Travel Insurance policies. These are useful in case one needs emergency medical treatment. But how about travel insurance to prevent problems? How about some Krav Maga Travel Insurance? This is something you cannot just purchase, you actually need to train. I have heard people say, I don't need gun defense as there are no guns were I live. (odd), but yet here they are with me in a country where guns are prevalent. Most of us travel these days, for work, for vacation etc. But are we prepared? Are we aware of the different kinds of violence in different countries. Are we prepared psychologically and physically to handle a potentially violent situation? Don't we all need a little Krav Maga Travel Insurance?
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