When I grew up in Hamburg, my home town, I had no Jewish friends or acquaintances. And if I had, I did not notice. Indeed, the very inquiry into whether someone was a Jew would have seemed awkward and inappropriate to me. In 1981 I went to Cape Town, where I was to spend seven years teaching Roman and comparative law. There I had the good fortune to come into contact with a vigorous, selfconfident and highly visible Jewish community. I had Jewish friends and colleagues, Jewish students and team mates. On account of my name I was even sometimes invited, on ceremonial occasions, to the synagogue. I suddenly realized how, for obvious historical reasons, our attitude towards national, racial and religious identity, and towards Jewish identity in particular, has been warped and to what extent we, as Germans, have lost any sense of unselfconscious innocence in these matters. It also struck me how much our culture has been impoverished by the absence of its specifically Jewish ingredient.