sonnenallee and divine light

JW’s in Europe

I was walking along Sonnenallee the other day. It was mostly allee and just a bit of sun. I saw this dazed and confused looking woman walking alone. She was holding up a plastic sheathed document of some kind. As she got closer, I realized I was about to encounter my first German Jehovah’s Witness.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe are one of those concepts that I will never get used to. In my cemented New York state of mind, JW’s are a compound word meaning Black people, preferably from Brooklyn, who ring the doorbell at inopportune moments.

The first time I met a JW in France it took me awhile to understand what he was saying. I was sitting on boardwalk in Pau and this older man sat down next to me on a bench and started blabbing on about something. At first I thought he was talking about some court case until it dawned on me that témoin de Jéhovah had nothing to do with Law and Order.

I don’t know why but the literal translations of anything that is stuck in my mind as a concept make me laugh. It was really hard to keep a straight face when I read the title of the JW magazine in German: Der Wachturm.   


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