For the past few weeks, MobileBooth West has been in beautiful Sacramento, California, in partnership with Capital Public Radio. We are parked outside the Sacramento Public Library, just blocks from the State Capital Building. While we remain on the lookout for Governor Schwarzenegger, we’ve been hearing stories more extraordinary than any Hollywood thriller.
Last week, Riki Friedman (R) came to the booth with her good friend Dorothy Finkbeiner. Riki met Dorothy the day she moved into Eskaton Senior Residences, a year and a half ago. Dorothy welcomed Riki by inviting her to her apartment for tea, and the two women talked for hours. This immediate connection was a surprise to both of them: Dorothy is from Germany, and Riki is a Jew from Brooklyn. Riki’s late husband, Israel, had been in the first American military outfit to liberate Buchenwald concentration camp, and had written vivid letters to Riki describing the horrors he witnessed. “If I had met you right after the war,” Riki told Dorothy, “I wouldn’t have given you the time of day.”
At their first meeting, Riki and Dorothy discovered their shared love for gardening, exchanged stories about their sons, and talked about what their lives were like during World War II, in which Dorothy lost two brothers. During that conversation, Riki admitted to Dorothy that she was her first German acquaintance since the war ended, and asked her, “What did you know?”
Dorothy answered, “Way too little. I didn’t even hear the word Auschwitz until the war was over.” Through their friendship, both women have realized that individuals should not be blamed for the terrible actions of countries, and that war is never the answer.
Riki and Dorothy are now the best of friends. “We see through the same eyes,” Dorothy said. “I wish the whole world could meet this way.”