Esther on a Roll

Detail of a scroll illustrated with a picture of a city

Detail of a Megillah, Germany, 18th century
© Jewish Museum Berlin. Photo: Michaela Roßberg

Today, 16 March, Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. On this holiday, the biblical Book of Esther is read aloud in synagogue. In keeping with tradition, the story of Esther—who saves the Jewish people in the Persian Empire from destruction by Haman, the king’s highest-ranking official—is read not from a book but from a parchment scroll. Commenting on the (Hebrew) reading, noisy hoots and rattles are sounded. (Alternative customs are described in our blog text for last year’s Purim).

Numerous Esther scrolls are currently in the custody of the Jewish Museum. The 32 works on loan will be on display along with other historical manuscripts from 4 April 2014, in the special exhibition “The Creation of the World. Illustrated Manuscripts from the Braginsky Collection.”  continue reading


Soccer Friends

This evening a game between the Israeli and Norwegian teams will kick off the Under-21 European Football Championship in Netanya. Participating in the opening match in their home country will be something very special for the Israeli players.

Since I am a big soccer fan, this European Cup provided me with the impetus to take a closer look at what the Jewish Museum’s collection has on the subject of soccer. In our online display I discover a “Short History of Jewish Football,” and in our collection data bank I find further objects that awaken my curiosity. A photograph from the year 1936 or 1937 particularly appeals to me. I find it fascinating that soccer was already in the 1930s something boys loved to play. In the picture stands (last row, center) the young Walter Frankenstein, born in 1924, together with his soccer team:

Young football players pose before the game

The soccer team of Auerbach’s Orphanage from 1936 or 1937. Gift of Walter Frankenstein (last row, center). Photographer unknown.
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

All the boys in the picture were inhabitants at that time of Auerbach’s Orphanage in Berlin’s Schönhauser Allee.  continue reading


My First Business Trip as a Museum Assistant

This year, the national museum assistant convention of the German Museums Association took place from March 1 to 3 in Frankfurt-am-Main, and the theme was “Museum today: ideals, trends, and perspectives.” The convention offered academic trainees from federal German museums and memorials an extensive array of lectures, excursions, and workshops. Along with all the other museum assistants, I was impressed by the diversity of events. The Historical Museum served as a set starting point, having put nearly its entire premises at the disposal of the convention.

A woman standing in front of the mural "Let my people go!"

Sabine Kößling in front of the remodeled mural at the Jewish Museum Frankfurt
© photo: Michaela Roßberg, Jewish Museum Berlin

On the day of our arrival, there was already a chance to take a tour through one of the many museums on the embankment of the Main. I visited the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, where our group was guided by Sabine Kößling, a former museum assistant at the Jewish Museum Berlin. She told us about the planned conception of the permanent exhibition, which originates largely from 1988, the year that the museum was founded. The reworking of the exhibition is being done in stages, so that the entire museum won’t need to be closed to visitors until 2014. The section on “Festivals and feast days – religious life”, for example, was being augmented with a large mural depicting the story of Moses and the Pharaoh.

The second day featured a number of workshops. I participated first in one called “Provenance research is power: arm yourself.”  continue reading