... in love with life

The Friedensmal is framed by a Garden of Freedom. On its border there is the Stone of Encounter. The Friedensmal is dedicated to the inner path and to a peace, that one brings into the world through one's speech and action. In the middle of the Friedensmal there's the Blossom of Shalom, in which the Hebrew word "Chai" is inscribed, i. e. living.

Preface: The attempt to create world peace from outside carries the danger of ending in totalitarianism. „Peace begins in the own house” (Karl Jaspers) is an already more realistic claim that is worth the effort, but it is still very difficult to realize. In fact, peace and freedom can only come from within, and so does peace begin with oneself. Here it is, where „dust is turned to light” (Nelly Sachs).

Every person who experiences an inner healing changes the world and helps peace. Therefore, this project also socially stands for repentance, peace and freedom. It shall serve a healing in the collective consciousness (shadow) and release the energy needed to positively shape the future. This vision, that became reality, is a response to the nihilism in todays western cultur.

Living the freedom - overcoming the fear

The Friedensmal is framed by a Garden of Freedom. This place can free man to stand upright and with courage for freedom, justice and life in our society. That is what "learning from the past" means. For surely this does not mean the instrumentalization of the past for someones own political purposes. Neither does it mean obediently to join the prevailing ideology in society only because with that you don't get into trouble and you even become praised by politicians and the media as a good person and a good German.

However, the most effective way to look away from one's own responsibility is to look for the "Nazis" outside and not having to see the evil and immature in oneself. All of this is done in the name of remembrance and responsibility. What I am describing is a
corrupted way of coping with the past, that favors anti-Semitism and that itself ensures that the past is repeated in a different guise. For too long in the culture of remembrance we have dealt exclusively with horror, death and guilt and with that we have overlooked peace, life, and detachment from the evil of the past. This is understandable, because there is still a bond with the same evil spirit from the past. We can let it go. Remembering alone is not enough.

The landscape of the Odenwald
The landscape: the view towards the Odenwald as seen from the Friedensmal.

From the inside to the outside

Art can give an impulse to society. The Friedensmal carries an impulse of life and freedom into the German culture. It was inaugurated on September 27, 2015 in Bensheim, Germany. It stands for new life; for Germany, Europe… for the human being. Within the Friedensmal we come back into contact with ourselves (inside). We become aware of our own hurt soul and the violation of the world. The way inwards is followed by the turn outwards. We open ourselves - respecting the boundaries - for the encounter with the other person and his world. This is the theme at the Stone of Encounter (outside).

inner clarification and free encounter, we as a society recognize those ideas and behaviors that are hostile to life and to which we have already become accustomed. The Friedensmal is about the restoration of relationships. But the idea must come to life and materialize in the world. This place is connected to a history that asks for such responsibility. From the Friedensmal you can look into the Rhine valley, where once was the "Jerusalem on the Rhine". With this location and name the Friedensmal can have an impact also on the sorrow-laden German-Jewish history; the worst trauma of our country. More about this can be found in the chapter Living the answer“.

Friedensmal - for the inner path to life

The Tree of Life within the Circle of Peace

When rounding the Friedensmal, you arrive at the same spot again and again. You circle around yourself until you finally stop and walk into the inner to the Tree of Life. For that, you have to walk over the two encircling steps, the Threshold of Humility (and high spirits) with the inscription „Recognize the sacred in your midst”. In the picture you look straight on the Tree of Life as a relief in the monument circle.

The meaning of the Tree of Life within the peace monument is described well with the words of Eckhart Tolle in his book "Stillness Speaks": A dimension of consciousness that reaches deeper than thinking, one could call it awareness, presence or unconditioned consciousness. It is the very essence of who you are.

11 large stones in the "dark ring" symbolize the blockades and entanglements that stand on man's way to himself between him and his freedom. It is the mind of the traumatized person. Unfree people are identified with their entanglements and this is exactly the reason, why the world can be in a state as it is today. The liberation from the entanglements is symbolized within the Friedensmal by the Tree of Life breaking open the dark ring.

The 12th stone, the Stone of Encounter (in the outer), stands outside the monument circle at the European long-distance path E8. It represents a responsibility for freedom and peace in the external world. It is „…a call full of love for the freedom of man”  (inscription).

The Friedensmal - A detailed description of its symbolism is provided here.

Garden of Freedom - the frame of the project (1:1 פרקי אבות)

Garden of Freedom in Bensheim, Germany

A Garden of Freedom with its outer border gives the space and framework in which the Friedensmal can take place. It's about the space we create together to make it happen. This space is a call for peace, freedom and new life. The framework is a culture of freedom that we want to live together in Germany.

With its two "angel wings" a Garden of Freedom is framing the 26 meters large Friedensmal. At the border to the European long-distance path E8 (the way through the world) there is the Stone of Encounter with the inscription Yerushalayim… (Hebrew for Jerusalem) on the "side of hope". On its other side suffering, both past and current, is addressed. Below it a slate stone in the ground with the inscription „Where dust is turned to light”  is pointing in the direction of the Friedensmal.

Projects Framework - A Garden of Freedom forms the framework of the Friedensmal. This allows contact with the environment, even where the memorials of admonishment in Germany because of their high number and their form language already cause a defensive stance of the people. This chapter, with an overall view as well as an explanation of the individual elements of the design, serves as a solid introduction to the understanding of the project.

* Education for freedom gives us the tools for liberation from education (kokhavim) *

Stone of Encounter - the dark and raw side

The dark and raw side of the Border Stone

This is the 12th stone, the Stone of Encounter. We look at the past, remember who we truly are, and confront the present. Life happens in the present: Where do we experience war and restriction instead of peace and freedom today, in our own lives? Where can we assume responsibility for a more beautiful world? Where does our responsibility begin? A threshold of slate underneath the Stone of Encounter refers to the Friedensmal located to the right of it, with the inscription „Where dust is turned to light”.  It shows visitors the way to the path inwards. It signifies a peace that can be found in oneself and which one will carry outwards into the world.

Local Past - The 12 years of Nazi rule, a collapse of civilization in the end, is a wake up call for a life in freedom; beyond the borders of an ideological prison.

Stone of Encounter - the light and smoothed side

Bright side of the Jeruslem Border Stone

Inscription: „Yerushalayim - A call full of love for freedom for man. That we recognize the fences in our dealings with one another and do not seek our life in the past". The Stone of Encounter stands for coming into relationship with the counterpart and it shows the holiness that lies therein. In the encounter, the mere idea about the other melts. Life is development. The picture shows the old version of the inscription, which lasted 7 years: "... that we overcome the fences in our dealing with one another and do not seek our foothold behind fences of ideology". At that time the stone was still called Border Stone. With the new version, the claim to overcome captivity in ideologies comes to life. Now the stone already shows in the name an openness for relationship. To recognize boundaries shows that the other may think differently and have different ideas about the world. This is an interest in the Other and his other view and knowledge of the world.

YERUSHALAYIM – designates the spiritual Jerusalem. The root "Jerusalem" reaches beyond Christianity into the origins of Judaism. Yerushalayim is thus also "the other" and at the same time a root of our European culture, which has been deeply hurt. Behind the Stone of Encounter, in the direction of Jerusalem, there is a fence on the other side of the European long-distance path E8. Its symbolic meaning is: healthy boundaries. We do not put walls between us humans and we do not tear down fences. Rather, we are aware of the fences and recognize the light and beauty they protect. Freedom does not mean boundlessness. Freedom comes from within: we become aware of the inner "ideological fences" that separate us from each other; and from truth and life.

Encounter Stone - Here you will find a detailed reflection on the two sides of the large stone from Odenwald quartz: the raw side with the suffering and the burden of the past and the light and smoothed side that shows the sanctity of relationship. The name "Yerushalayim" denotes a root of our culture and it is a reference to the "heavenly Jerusalem". The stone is a symbol of healing and freedom and thus a hope for peace in the world.

Jerusalem on the Rhine - a Jewish past

View from the Friedensmal onto Jerusalem on the Rhine

View onto the Rhine Plane, where once was Jerusalem on the Rhine. If you look from the Blossom of Shalom to the west, between the two hills, the silhouette of the city of Worms (22 km) can be seen with its huge cathedral on the horizon. Worms is the geographical middle of the three cities Speyer, Worms and Mainz, who formed in the high Middle Ages Jerusalem on the Rhine. Because of their vital importance for the Jewish congregations in Central Europe, they are considered the birthplace of the Ashkenazi Jewish culture in the High Middle Ages.

Jerusalem on the Rhein - Here you'll find more information about this Jewish history.

The Blossom of Shalom - for a living heart

The Blossom of Shalom within the Jerusalem Friedensmal

The Blossom of Shalom bears the Seed of Life. Shalom means harmony, salvation, wealth, and peace. The Jewish poet Nelly Sachs described Shalom as „a butterfly zone of dreams“. Shalom begins in one's own soul. The Blossom of Shalom consists of twelve white petals and a star resting on it (heart chakra): A living heart!  The hexagonal star symbolizes the connection between "Heaven" and "Earth", between spirit and matter. Together with the centre point, it is a symbol of Shabbat, which also means the "coming to oneself" of man. The blossom is located in the center of the Tree of Life within the Friedensmal: man can connect "heaven" and "earth" inside himself, similar to a tree.

The Blossom of Shalom - Here you can find pictures and texts of the inauguration of the Blossom of Shalom on May 17, 2012.

The placing of the "Chai" - because life is sacred

"But the idea must come to life and become concrete in the world" - I had written at the beginning of the page. The idea is becoming clear and concrete in the world at this location in Germany with the topic "Peace in the German-Jewish relations". It concerns the deepest trauma of Germans and Jews. If the frozen traumatic energy were released, it would be free to serve life again. To serve life  would be to learn from our past.

Mordeshai Mendelson sets the Turning PointRemembering is not enough: As a symbol for life Rabbi Mordechai Mendelson sets the Turning Point with the inscription "Chai" (living).

Peace for the individual: One perceives the pain, grief, fear and anger caused by the memories and walks a path of peace with them. It is not peace with injustice, but it means that one no longer runs away from these feelings; they become embraced in love and in a hope of new life.

Making relationship: The Friedensmal gives a space for a deep encounter with fellow human beings. This is how to overcome the "Terror of Loneliness" programmed into our society. Society needs cohesion rather than division. Understanding the Friedensmal means "to refuse cooperation with madness"  (Rubikon).

New Life: A recovery would become visible in people being awake, responsible and freedom-loving and in the symbols for life, which are created in culture. How does our country deal with such a peace monument?

The entire design consisting of the Friedensmal in a Garden of Freedom and the Stone of Encounter on its border was given the spiritual name "Jerusalem Friedensmal" on March 22, 2013. The name was published on the front pages of the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz.

The Turning Point with the inscription "Chai", Hebrew for "living", had been placed by Rabbi Mordechai Mendelson on May 14, 2017 (Jewish calendar: 9 (Iyar), 18, 5777) in the center of the Friedensmal. From this one point, the whole monument had been measured and constructed. "Recognize the Sacred in your Midst" is the inscription on the entrance to the Friedensmal. - Living (chai) is sacred.

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