22 Stones of Peace  National Media

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The following press report appeared, among other places, in the Bergsträßer Anzeiger and the Frankfurter Rundschau. You can find the detailed report with many videos and pictures from the inauguration ceremony below this link.

22 new Stones for the Friedensmal in Hochstädten

Art Project: Values in Togetherness in the "Space of Encounter"

On Sunday, May 22, 2022, between 300 and 400 people gathered at the Friedensmal in Bensheim, many of whom had traveled from afar for the event. In a four-hour ceremony, 22 new Peace Stones were inaugurated in the monument, representing values in togetherness. This art project was initiated by the Stiftung Friedensmal.

The pre-program featured "Singing with All" from Seeheim-Jugenheim with over 70 singers. Their song "One day we'll all be free and proud to be under the same sun, singing songs of freedom..." kicked off the festivities.

The Artodance dance company from Schlüchtern performed an impressive dance display at the Friedensmal. During this twenty-minute performance, not a sound was heard from the audience, so captivated were they by the dance. Afterwards, Rabbi Mordechai Mendelson and the event organizer Thomas Zieringer welcomed the guests together. The theme that wove through the entire event was "Reconciliation and overcoming the division of society."

The Orthodox Rabbi from Karlsruhe, who had come with his Hasidic congregation, spoke about the 22 Hebrew letters to which the 22 new stones in the Friedensmal are assigned. He particularly focused on the word "Emet," "Truth," which in the Hebrew alphabet connects the Aleph and the Tav as the first and last letters. The Space of Encounter in the Friedensmal with the new stones is a place of truth.

Speaking for the Stiftung Friedensmal, Thomas Zieringer emphasized in his speech that the Friedensmal is not explicitly a 'Jewish monument', but rather a place of reconciliation. It addresses a part of German history. From the Friedensmal, one can see the city of Worms, 22 km away, which was the center of the former 'Jerusalem on the Rhine' in the Middle Ages. The Jewish culture at this significant location is a part of German history. The Friedensmal, with its '(Jerusalem) Stone of Encounter', had been in existence for years before a political initiative last year led to the recognition of this cultural past of 'Jerusalem on the Rhine' as a UNESCO World Heritage site."

even though people often assume this because of the name. However, it does touch upon a part of German history with its name. From the Friedensmal, one looks at the city of Worms 22 km away, the center of the former "Jerusalem on the Rhine" in the Middle Ages. Jewish culture at this significant location is part of German history. The Friedensmal had existed for years before a political initiative last year led to this cultural past of the "Jerusalem on the Rhine" being recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Afterwards, the audience heard a contribution from Maria Kaplan, who sang an Aramaic peace song. Aramaic is the language that Jesus spoke. Another highlight of the afternoon was a speech by the nationally known philosopher Gunnar Kaiser. He chose the Friedensmal to set a sign for overcoming societal division and to leave behind the condemnations of the "other side" in the time of Corona. This makes society sick, he said. His speech can be found under the link "Inauguration of the 22 Peace Stones" on the website:

The entire event was accompanied by the bard singer Eloas Lachenmayr from Lake Constance with his profound and poetic songs, which are about arriving at oneself and becoming aware of the beauty of life again.

At the end of the festival, people found each other in encounters; some danced in the Friedensmal, others formed a circle with Mrs. Kaplan, who sang another song. The festival developed its own life. In this, Zieringer saw the new era: This festival, in which the contributions wove themselves into each other of their own accord, was only possible because the visitors co-designed it unsolicited and independently.

Here are some voices from visitors:

"Something sustainable and great has been created for our region." (Oswald Kurz, entrepreneur from Bensheim)

"It was truly unique in the best sense! We were all very touched by the openness of the audience to our honesty and our emotions - such an audience is rare. Not to mention the place itself." (Miriam, dancer)

"It was a great experience and a very nice experience for me and the dancers. Thank you for letting us be a part of it. The afternoon was very successful and you could feel the energy at the place! Even our rehearsal the night before, the encounter with the spiritual hikers, deeply touched us. I would also like to praise the artistic work. I am impressed with how much love and devotion the design is made in the details." (Choreographer, Monica Opsahl)

Two visitors expressed themselves at the end of the event as follows: "It was so beautiful, we are now floating home. We deeply store this for the coming time. It was a wonderful experience, especially the many connecting elements, that we approach each other, that we are there for each other, that we do not reject each other in any form, no matter what standpoint we have, no matter what we have done so far, felt. That we approach each other, the connecting thing has pleased me very, very much. Thank you."

Another visitor said: "What I found impressive was the peaceful coexistence of the different 'currents': Christian choir, Jewish rabbi with congregation, Aramaic peace song, a bard, a German philosopher, etc., and a very colorful audience, even 10 dogs were peaceful. The festival was an 'image' of the message of the Friedensmal." (Petra from Bensheim)

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