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;
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
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.