U.S. rabbis build Berlin bridge

"I am amazed to see a female rabbi!"

"Why is there so much hate in the Mideast?"

Last week, three American rabbis answered these questions and more — with humor and toughness.

They were part of a group of 11 rabbis and one journalist who were on a weeklong visit organized by Bridge of Understanding, a German-based program that builds connections between American Jews and Germans.

"There are still a lot of misconceptions about Germany, and we would like to give the rabbis a chance to experience the country firsthand," said Dagmar Weiler, 42, who founded Bridge in 1995.

"Our experience has been that the rabbis talk about their experiences in the synagogue. They are teachers in the best sense, and we want to reach them."

"It has a ripple effect," said Rabbi Ronald Brown of Temple Beth Am of New York. "These students tell their friends, and they tell their parents."

For some, contact with students had the most profound effect.

Student Katrin Knopp, 17, said she had "had a lot of prejudice against America and now I have to change my opinion."