I have come to teach in Germany quite regularly over the last years, an experience that has allowed me to liberate myself from the anger I felt toward all Germans as a child of survivors. Every time I return, I am reminded of how, in my judgementalism, I underestimated the capacity of their humanity.

In my workshops, I have seen children and grandchildren of Nazi’s whose tortured past has crippled them, and I have seen those of families who were heroic in hiding Jews. When we work together, we utilize the power of rituals and ceremonies to create environments that promote healing.

This year, a woman who has participated with me before, and with whom I have developed a soulful connection, brought me a photograph from her Hessian hometown of Bad Wildungen, just a few miles from what was my parents’ hometown in Felsberg. The picture is of three stones embedded in the ground called stolpersteiner, “stumble stones,” which are in front of the homes of the Jews who once lived in them.

The three stumble stones bear the names of my relatives, and read:

HERE LIVED

MAX HAMMERSCHLAG

BORN 1899

DEPORTED 1942

THERESIENSTADT

AUSCHWITZ

MURDERED MARCH 20, 1945

BUCHENWALD

Here lived

EDGAR HAMMERSCHLAG

BORN 1922

deported 1942

THERESIENSTADT

MURDERED IN

AUSCHWITZ.

HERE LIVED

SELMA HAMMERSCHLAG

GEB. KATZ

BORN 1898

DEPORTED 1942

THERESIENSTADT

LIBERATED 1945

When Michaela gave me the picture she said every time she passes them she is reminded not only of her relationship with me but also that she is now related to them. I looked at the picture and felt the sadness but not the rage; every time I come here someone’s finger touches my soul and I am healed again.