It is an interesting movement – the Multigenerational Houses in Germany. Although we have been living in Heidelberg off and on since 1993, this past week was the first time that I learned anything about them. Getting an email from Helena, another member of the US military related Jewish community – she mentioned that the Heidelberg Haus might be the perfect place to hold a community Seder for those of us not inclined to go the orthodox route.
The principle is simple, and honestly obvious once one thinks about it. It is simply a type of house where unrelated people of all ages live and create a family. Own room with bath is the standard. The cooking facilities are in common as are recreational spaces. Many offer community services, such as kindergarten so that you can’t think this is a substitution for the old residential hotels or boarding houses and it really is not a group home. This is essentially a location where people create a family of choice, not limited by age, gender or physical abilities. Many are Evangelisch sponsored, but not all.
The Haus in Heideleberg was established in 2007. I think Helena found it when she was looking for a child care/kindergarten location for one of her small children. This particular community is an incredibly interesting mix of ages, interests and country of origin back ground.
So there we are – setting up for a Seder of about 45 people of ages from crawling to walking to rolling to ambulating through the children with care, stiffness, and cane. Americans, ex-Russians, Germans, Israelis, Spaniards and probably a couple more countries of origin that I missed.
The Seder itself reminding me in many ways of the one I attended in Budapest – 1998. Scattered tables (only way to fit enough people into the room) and someone sort of leading but a lot of chaos and multiple languages. So I should not have been surprised at a Russian Haggadah being translated in German with most of the songs done in Hebrew (have you ever heard some of them translated into local language? shudder). Lots of introductory remarks, most of the long passages skipped as well as spilling wine for the plagues (all those kids? a chance to drip juice/wine?).
There was more than enough to eat (as always – turkey, chicken, veggies, salads, fruits and more matzoh) and a lot of discussions.
The Piano became multi-use, serving for both buffet and concluding music.