Already for the third time descendants of Jewish families from Hohenems from July 27 – 30, 2017, met for a reunion in the town on the Austrian-Swiss border. Many of their ancestors already emigrated in the 19th century. Or escaped the Nazi persecution. Now they live in Italy and in the US, in Switzerland, Germany or Australia, in Israel or Middle America, in Brussels, London or Paris, and some even in Vorarlberg. For all Hohenems is still a meaningful location, and the Jewish Museum their mutual family archive.
2017 naturally is an important year, 400 years ago the Jewish history of the town began. So the number of descendants participating in the reunion this year was particularly high: more than 180 people, from age 1 to 91, from all generations and from all corners of the world. Together they explored their past but also the prent situation of Hohenems, took part in guided tours in the museum and the Jewish quarter, but also on the traces of escape routes of 1938 along the “old Rhine”. They discussed family biographies and cosmopolitanism, the misery of refugees today and the growing nationalism of today. Workshops and music (i.e. with Sulzer descendant Danny Blaker from Australia), celebration and reflection, a kaddish on the cemetery and a kiddush in the former synagogue where part of the program, as much as excursions into the mountains, on lake Constance or to St. Gall.
The climax was a white table, 100 Meter long, in the former Jewish Quarter. This “lunch with locals” offered encounters with the neighbors and the dedicated friends f the Museum in the Museum’s association. Moving moments that no one will forget. The descendants became cosmopolites – and remained Hohenemsers.