What Memories Do You Associate with the High Holidays?

Employees of the Jewish Museum Berlin respond:

“When I think back, I remember first of all friends and family, followed by food – a whole lot of food.” Roland Schmidt, Host

“I remember the meals at my grandmother’s as so sumptuous and sprawling that I had the feeling I needed to fast not just on Yom Kippur but for the whole rest of the year.” Alina Gromova, Academic Employee in the Fellowship Program, and Guide

Drawing of a fish on a plate

© Alina Gromova, Jewish Museum Berlin

“To stay on the culinary topic, I can bring up the days when gefilte fish was still cooked at home. You would order two carp at the fishmonger – who was doing enough business in September to last the entire year, because the customers celebrating Rosh ha-Shanah would stand in line for live fish. You would carry home the floundering content in a metal bucket on the tram, accompanied by the cold glares of ditrustful animal rights activists sitting near you.  continue reading


How Are You Spending the High Holidays this Year?

Apple, mango, fig, star fruit, lemon

Apple, mango, fig, star fruit, lemon

We posed this question to employees of the Jewish Museum Berlin. Some answered  curtly, such as one colleague who “doesn’t usually do anything (aside from dipping a few pieces of apple in honey…).” Others answered indirectly via an out-of-office message which ended with “Cordial greetings and Shanah Tovah.” Here are some additional responses:

“I’m going to go to my grandmother’s for Rosh ha-Shanah, like every year. With one difference: I’m hoping that she will follow my advice this year and forget to warm up the gefilte fish before serving it, because it tastes better cold.” Alina Gromova, Academic Employee in the Fellowship Program, and Guide

Piled jars with honey

Honey, source: Pixabay, CC0 license

“Like every year, we observe erev Rosh ha-Shanah at a dinner with friends, which we sanctify by reciting various blessings. We dip apples in honey and buy rare fruit which relinquish their mysteries upon consumption. We celebrate the New Year culinarily, with new, unknown foods to discover, resulting in a kind of biology intelligence test. Unfortunately there are never any kreplach to follow because no one knows how to prepare them anymore, and the gefilte fish comes, if at all, out of a jar. Making it would take days, but worse, cooking fish gives off a smell which fills the entire house, and might drive away the neighbors, and not only the disagreeable ones… The remaining array of dishes is unspectacular. Over the next two days, some of the dinner guests attend synagogue – chosen either out of nostalgia for childhood memories, or out of liturgical interest.” Cilly Kugelmann, Program Director   continue reading


Ronny Loewy,

10 April, 1946 – 9 August, 2012

Ronny Loewy with the director Louis Malle and Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Ronny Loewy (in the middle) with the director Louis Malle (r.) and Daniel Cohn-Bendit (l.) at the German premiere of “Au revoir les enfants,” 1987, courtesy of Gisela Geier-Loewy

On August 9 of last year, film historian Ronny Loewy died. He was a remarkable person and a friend of this museum, who supported and inspired our work from the beginning: it was Ronny who selected many of the film excerpts that appear in our permanent exhibition or appeared in the special exhibition “Home and Exile”. He also published, among other things, Tereska Torrès’s film diary Unerschrocken: Auf dem Weg nach Palästina (Unafraid: On the Way to Palestine) about the illegal emigration of Displaced Persons to Palestine in 1947 and 48. Ronny was a colleague and friend, with whom we not only worked but also shared many experiences and much laughter, who constantly opened our eyes to the new and unusual, the forgotten and overlooked, little details from films, and above all to the people behind these moving pictures.

We therefore wish to dedicate space on this blog today to remembering him and his life, one year after his death:  continue reading