In a historic moment laden with poignancy that only survivors and children of survivors can know, the twenty preschoolers called out, “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.” For the parents and grandparents of these children who were beginning their first day of school—Jewish school—it marked a turning point in the city’s Jewish history.
A first since the near-annihilation of Dresden Jewry almost sixty years ago, the preschool which opened last week, was founded by local Chabad representatives Rabbi Schneur and Chanie Havlin, under the auspices of Ohr Avner-Chabad schools, making early Jewish education accessible to Dresden’s Jewish children.
The new development was especially significant, observes school director Mrs. Chanie Havlin, in a city whose Jewish life has been so ravaged, first by Nazism and then by communist oppression, as to make Jewish identity
seem a burdensome liability. Given its background, Dresden hardly seemed fertile ground for a Jewish revival when the young Chabad couple arrived here a year and a half ago. But if children are the key to the future, and a solid Jewish education key to a thriving Jewish future, Chabad’s new preschool should make deep inroads to the level Jewish awareness and involvement among the city’s 5,000 Jews.
Situated in an upper-scale neighborhood in the city center, the preschool, geared to children aged two to five, provides door-to-door transportation and nutritious lunches. Most importantly, it offers an attractive curriculum that incorporates Jewish subtopics in the broader range of a quality early childhood education.
But, says Rabbi Havlin, this is only the beginning. “The opening of the new preschool is the first step in the establishment of a comprehensive Jewish educational infrastructure so that a Jewish education becomes a desirable choice for the Jews of Dresden.”