We are gathered here in order to give the former rabbinical building the name
“Simon-Berlinger-Haus” and, in doing so, to honor a man who throughout his life proved to be a bridge builder between Jews and Germans, between Jews and Christians.
In this capacity, I was allowed to make his acquaintance, too.
When my husband and I started to explore the history of our adopted home Braunsbach more than 14 years ago, we soon discovered the history of the local Jewish parish and its institutions. Thus also the Jewish and/or Israelite school.
We learned that this school had been opened in 1936 by a certain Simon Berlinger as a district school for Jewish children and that this Simon Berlinger lived in Haifa. “Just give him a call if you want to find out anything”, friends of his told us.
Therefore, one day, with a trembling heart, I called a man in Haifa hitherto unknown to me, a Jew, who had had to leave Germany and had thus survived the Shoa.
Hardly had I presented myself and my request to him, I was overwhelmed by a friendly flood of speech until I wouldn’t know what hit me. I couldn’t take in everything Simon told me so quickly.
In the years to come, this call was followed by many others, which always proceeded in a similar way. At last, I was able to visit him in November 2009 where I – finally – was allowed to get to know him personally.
I came to know and appreciate him as a person with an open heart and an outstretched hand, as a member of a people who had been inflicted great injustice and terrible suffering at the hands of my people, and yet felt no hatred. As a man who, even as a young teacher here in Braunsbach, had worked for peace and reconciliation in terrible and dangerous times.
Simon Berlinger was a man for whom every single person counted, who did not condemn anyone on the grounds of a specific group affiliation. He saw and judged the individual, the person, what they said and how they acted. This was his pedagogical ethos in which he shaped the following generation as father and teacher.
In this, he may also serve as an example to future generations.
With the Rabbinatsmuseum, we want to convey knowledge about those who think and believe differently, but above all, we want to awaken and strengthen tolerance and respect for others.
This is what induced Simon Berlinger to accompany attentively and helpfully what was happening around the Rabbinatsmuseum. His telephone greeting from Haifa at the opening of the museum testified this.
Simon Berlinger’s legacy is to be transmitted at this place. Therefore, the house, where two of his family members served as Rabbis and where he worked as a pedagogue, shall bear from now on his name: “Simon-Berlinger-Haus”.
(Extract from a speech delivered by Elisabeth Quirbach in 2009.)