Trees, Fruit, and a Breath of New Age

The significance of holidays isn’t just getting a few days off of work and school.´This holds true as much in Israel as elsewhere. Tu bi-Shevat, the “New Year’s Festival of the Trees,” which falls this year on 26 January, fails to meet the admittedly not always religious criterion of holiday.

Trees made out of cardboard

From our Tu bi-Shevat workshop for children, 2012 © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Nadja Rentzsch

But Israeli children at least have to spend the day in nature, because the custom on Tu bi-Shevat is to make an excursion into the country to plant trees. Most look forward to it; for some, however – and I as a child was included in this latter group – it’s a relief when the cultivation of trees is replaced by some other form of togetherness in the shelter of the classroom.

In fact, in the last fifteen years the tradition of planting that had already been nurtured by the Zionist movement has been increasingly augmented by a new tradition, that of the Tu bi-Shevat seder, whose name alludes to the seder (Hebrew: order) at the beginning of Passover.  continue reading

Names have meaning…

They betray the hopes, dreams, and projections of fathers and mothers,they follow trends, and foretell the future of their bearers.
For Jews many decisions are connected to the naming of a child: should the name underscore his religious affiliation, only be recognizable to other Jews, or neither? Will it be a name native to the family’s country of origin or to the child’s country of birth? Has the name been translated? Does it memorialize someone? Colleagues and friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin share their thoughts with this blog, on this and other questions.

Children's painting of the prophetess Miriam with her timbrel

Miriam dancing © Miriam Lubrich

Miriam / Mirjam
Soon there will be four women working along the hallway that my office is on, who all have the same first name that I have: Mirjam or, in some cases, Miriam. Even while the etymology is not completely unambiguous, the triumphant prophetess with the timbrel is namesake to each of us – that Miriam who roused the women to dance a dance of joy after the Israelites had fled from Egypt and divided the Red Sea (2. Moses 14, 20). With that, the sister of Moses and Aron took her rightful place among scripture’s female figures – women like both of the wives of the first man Adam, Lillith and Eve – who showed their rebellious traits: Miriam asserted the claim that God also spoke through her. She was consequently struck with a skin rash and had to wait for seven days outside of the encampment before she was allowed to live among the congregation of her desert-crossing brethren (4. Moses 12, 1-16).

Is it an accident that this combative woman lent her name to so many employees of the Jewish Museum Berlin?  continue reading

Posted by on 14. January 2013

What was the sound of the year 2012 for you?

Employees of the Jewish Museum Berlin answer the question.

drawing of Et’hem-Bey Mosque in Tirana“My sound of the year was the muezzin’s call to prayer from the Et’hem-Bey Mosque in Tirana, that wafted through the night like one of Blixa Bargeld’s sound installations.”
Julia Jürgens, Events

“The music that accompanies my daily trip to work hums along discreetly in my headphones. But at the sound of one track, my hand automatically moves to the volume control. Muzarco’s ‘instinct mostly’ on Lost and Found Records is something to listen to, something to make a person curious. The artist and the label are part of a fresh, lively scene in Tel Aviv, comments the moderator at the end of the track. And in fact, I find further interesting pieces on this label, which is based in Tel Aviv and was just founded in 2012. Hypnotic, spatially structured house, techno, and ambient sounds distinguish the selected releases and stir an appetite for more. Good music doesn’t always have to come from the region that typically dominates – it can come from somewhere unexpected.”
Andreas Harm, Finance

soup bowl with chopsticks“The lip-smacking and slurping relish during meal scenes in the films of Hong Sang-soo.”
Johannes Rinke, Visitor Services

“For me the sound of the year was the flashing of photographers’ cameras on the red carpet at the conferral of the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance. Most of all at the entrance of German President Joachim Gauck and the prizewinner Richard von Weizsäcker, the tumult around the red carpet could hardly be contained as every photographer tried to lay claim to the best spot for shooting.”
cell phone with a drawing of a birdSylvia Winkler, Press
(editor’s note: Photographs of this evening can be downloaded here.)

“My sound of the year is the chirping of birds – my colleague Karin’s ringtone – that always brings spring back into my office.”
Diana Dressel, Education

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