A few years ago, I shared with Queens Jewish Link readers the start of my genealogical journey [Treasures from the Attic, 2013], which recently reached an emotional highlight. To briefly recap, while sitting shiv’ah for my mother a”h in 2002, I was intrigued by the visits of cousins whom I had hardly known. That, coupled with the discovery of a suitcase filled with documents, from my grandfather (my mother’s father passed away in 1966), set me on a course where I have created a family tree with over 2,500 names.

I’d like to share my impressions of Germany, to complement Warren Hecht’s article from September 5. Please be forewarned: This essay is part travelogue, part history lesson, and part my personal impressions of Germany. For all those not interested in any of those topics, you can stop reading now.

Last week, amidst yet another controversy surrounding Ilhan Omar, freshman congresswoman from Minnesota, the cover of Newsweek was Omar’s smiling face with the title “Ilhan Omar, the Democrats, and Israel.” Inside the magazine was a 5,000-word article titled, “How Ilhan Omar Is Changing the Conversation About Israel - and Upending the 2020 Campaign.” The article paints Omar as the tragic heroine selflessly working from within the Democratic Party to create a more honest view of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

This weekend, the nation reacted to the news that there were two mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio. In an all too familiar and an all too predictable reaction, every side of the issues said what they always say. There was little to no mourning for the victims of the tragedy, because the nation is too engrossed in political point-scoring to focus on the humanity.

On those occasions when I could break away from Pesach preparation over the last few hours, it seemed that all the news centered on the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It was amazing to me to see how many people were outraged or saddened or pained by the burning of this building. On my visit to Paris a few years ago, my tour bus passed the cathedral several times, and despite the many impressive buildings in Paris, it stood out. Hailed by some as the “most important building in Western Civilization, the iconic, massive, and grandiose structure, hundreds of years old, was certainly quite a sight, and perhaps that is why it has saddened so many. Perhaps it was because this has only been the most recent and famous of houses of worship being attacked in a spate of tragedies throughout France.