On 21 June 2017, Christof Lewek, member of the association Freundeskreis Berlin Pankow-Ashkelon and head of the recreation centre in Berlin’s Weißensee district, hosted this year’s plenary assembly. We are very happy to welcome two new members to our association: Mr Sören Benn (party Die Linke), district mayor of Berlin Pankow, and Mr Michael Gericke, non-medical practitioner.
Agenda items included the report of the board on the activities carried out between 2015 and 2017, the cash report, the approval of the activities undertaken by the previous board and the election of the new board members. Ines Koenen (chair), Stefanie Gronau (deputy chair) and Stefan Krause (treasurer) were unanimously re-elected as board members, while Natalie Zange (deputy chair) and Renate Schmid (assessor) were unanimously elected as new members.
At the plenary assembly, the association agreed to focus on the following projects in the next two years:
Intensifying cooperation with Pankow’s district administration and the deputies of the district parliament;
Stolpersteingruppe Pankow and Freundeskreis Berlin Pankow-Ashkelon invite you to help clean stumbling blocks in Alt-Pankow and Niederschönhausen to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Stumbling blocks, known as Stolpersteine in Germany, are cobblestone-sized blocks bearing the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution. Intended to pay tribute to those murdered or persecuted by the Nazis, they are laid right into the pavement and can be found in front of many houses all over Europe.
Between 22 and 25 October 2015, Freundeskreis chair Ines Koenen and her deputy Stefanie Gronau visited our twin town Ashkelon. Having received many guests from Ashkelon in Berlin to celebrate the anniversary of our town twinning agreement in 2014, we also wanted to pay them a visit. Furthermore, we wanted to present our idea of organizing an art camp. Although details still need to be discussed, the project seems to be promising. Both youth art schools are already in touch with each other.
We were especially keen to deepen the existing contacts. The screening of the documentary »Im Himmel unter der Erde« made an essential contribution to this endeavour. Sixty Israelis of all generations joined the screening, including many young people, representatives of the municipality and holocaust survivor Eva Erben. Being one of the historical witnesses interviewed for the video archive »Sprechen trotz allem«, she is widely known in Pankow. Eva Erben has already visited Pankow and signed the visitors’ book.
As always, we were offered a very warm welcome. We were impressed by the warmth and openness of the people we met. Everybody did their best to adapt the programme to our needs. Now that we have met the people of Ashkelon, we look forward to many new encounters and hope to extend our project work in the coming years.
Visit to Ashkelon’s youth art school
Screening of the documentary »Im Himmel unter der Erde« about the Jewish cemetery in Weißensee at the community centre in Ashkelon
Tour of Ashkelon’s archeological sites with Gad Sobol
In cooperation with the Freundeskreis, »Kenny« created an app that takes visitors to the Jewish sites of Pankow such as Bleichröder Park, Garbáty Square, Rykestraße Synagogue and the Jewish cemetery in Berlin’s Weißensee district. In addition to a route planner, the app offers detailed information on the individual sites.
The app can be downloaded free of charge and is available for iPhone/iPad and Android.
Representatives of the Freundeskreis attended the ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel on 12 May 2015. Federal President Joachim Gauck and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin gave speeches, and the Berlin Philharmonic played Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Italian Symphony.
Invited by the press network for youth issues (PNJ), a group of young journalists working for Galatz, a radio station operated by the Israel Defense Forces, visited Berlin on 11 May 2015 and met with representatives of the Freundeskreis.
We visited the Rykestraße Synagogue, the Jewish cemetery, the lapidarium and the orphanage founded by Baruch Auerbach on Schönhauser Allee (wall of remembrance).
Jörg Wild, head of PNJ: »We had an extremely inspiring and exciting conversation and gave our colleagues a very interesting insight into German-Israeli relations and Jewish life in Prenzlauer Berg.«
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the citizens association »Für Pankow e.V.« organized a joint event on 7 January 2015. Holocaust survivor Sally Perel visited the Pankow orphanage. More than 350 people listened as he spoke about his dramatic life. His story is told in the 1990 film »Europa Europa«, directed by Agnieszka Holland. Mr Perel’s autobiography was published in Germany in 1992. Ines Koenen, chair of the Freundeskreis, gave a welcoming address.
Matthias Köhne, mayor of Berlin’s Pankow district, Renate Schmidt from the Pankow district authority and Ines Koenen, chair of the Freundeskreis, visited Israel from 8 to 11 December 2014. Together with representatives from eight German towns and their Israeli twin towns, they attended a round table to share ideas and experiences and discuss activities that help promote young people. The round table was organized by ULAI (Union of Local Authorities in Israel) in cooperation with the Germany Association of Cities. The goal was to make the participants of both countries aware of their future: children and young people.
The German and Israeli representatives shared their experiences regarding youth activities and visited Israeli youth centres. Participants came from Berlin-Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg, Berlin-Pankow, Dormagen, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Münster, Recklinghausen and Solingen and their respective twin towns Kiryat Yam, Ashkelon, Kiryat Ono, Haifa, Herzliya, Rishon LeZion, Acre and Ness Ziona.
Workshops and presentations of the joint project of the twin towns Berlin-Pankow/Ashkelon ARTCAMP in Tel Aviv’s Art Port
Meeting our partners from the municipal authorities in Ashkelon
Delegation of the German twin towns visits the mayor of Acre and youth centres in Acre