I grew up in a home where buying German products was forbidden. Yes, World War II was over and the Nazis long gone, but our family, it was made clear, did not support the German economy. Once, as a birthday gift, I bought my dad a wind-up alarm clock made in East Germany, under the mistaken impression that an East German product would be acceptable, but its origin was immediately espied and I was sent back to the store to return it.
There were many Jewish families like mine who wouldn't buy a Volkswagen or visit Germany, and even today, there are still Jews around the world who understandably feel this way. But as an adult who has traveled to Germany and has close German friends, I don't. There is no rewriting the past, and the relationship of Jews to Germany will always be complex. Even decades later, it continues to be explored, as seen in the late Peter Matthies-sen's last novel, In Paradise, reviewed in this issue, as well as in uncounted books still being published on the topic. Yet as you may have read in our major symposium on anti-Semitism in the previous issue, anti-Semitism now manifests itself in new ways: It can sometimes be found in the powerful undercurrents of anti-Israel sentiment seen around the world.
That is one reason why I find myself in a surprising number of conversations with dear friends in which I explain that modern Germany is one of Israel's staunchest diplomatic allies: a supplier of military armaments and a defender of Israel in the European Union. This is usually news to them: The story of the German-Israel friendship flies under the American radar and is rarely mentioned in the meeting halls and corridors of congregations and organizations. But since the days of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, it has been a part of the underpinnings of modern Israel. Moment opinion editor Amy E. Schwartz traveled to Germany recently to report firsthand about the contours of the public and not-so-public aspects of the relationship between the two countries.
There's far more in this issue, including two features that provide an inside look into Israel. Our comprehensive symposium gets right to the heart of the uneasiness many diaspora Jews feel about Israel. Anyone who has tried to get married or divorced in Israel knows the drill: There is only the Orthodox way. We ask: Can an official rabbinate coexist with religious pluralism in Israel? A brilliant array of thinkers confront...