Mensch or Might?

Impressions of the “Obedience” Exhibition, from Muslim and Christian Perspectives

A woman with short hair (left) and a woman with a blue headscarf (right) speaking in a microphone

Silke Radosh-Hinder and Emine Erol in the “Golden Room” © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

During the recent “Long Night of Museums” event, visitors were given a unique introduction to our current temporary exhibition “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” when the imam Emine Erol and the pastor Silke Radosh-Hinder led guided tours together. We asked the two women what they made of the occasion, and whether the joint guided tours had opened up novel views and perspectives on the biblical story.

Ms Erol, Ms Radosh-Hinder, would each of you describe the exhibition in your own words?

Silke Radosh-Hinder: For me, the exhibition is above all an opportunity to examine the story of the Binding of Isaac from a myriad of perspectives.

Emine Erol: The primary focus of the Obedience exhibition is the frame of mind of Ismael/Isaak respectively of his father Abraham. By prompting an emotional response and reflection, it helps visitors understand, ultimately, that such surrender may be dangerous or possibly even fatal—and also to understand what may motivate it.  continue reading


Food for Thought

Menurkeys for Thanksgivukkah?

A menora, flowers, and the book "Curious George"

Research under way in preparation for Thanksgivukkah
Photo: Signe Rossbach

Chanksgiving! As a family of German-American Jewish-Protestant-Catholic-Puritan backgrounds, we do like to celebrate as many holidays as we can possibly fit into our family schedule – with Halloween, our twins’ birthday and the classic German lantern parade for St. Martin’s day making for an action packed twelve days at the beginning of November.

After a bit of a breather we’re heading into the next holiday season – with a bit of a twist this year. Usually Hanukkah – the Jewish festival of lights and miracles – is associated with the Christian festival of lights and a miraculous birth: Christmas. And that makes sense, sort of, superficially at least. A few years ago we had an entire exhibition titled “Chrismukkah” – a cultural history of the evolution of the two holidays, and this year on December 3, Rabbi Daniel Katz will present a truly enjoyable talk on how they really don’t fit together at all.

But Thanksgiving?  continue reading


From Wagner to the Weather

My Two Hours as a Living Exhibition Object in the Show “The Whole Truth

This was a truly extraordinary experience. The best moments were when the visitors started talking not just to me but to each other, and we wound up talking about Wagner and the weather rather than ‘just’ about growing up Jewish – or, more specifically, in my case as the daughter of a Jewish-American mother and a German, (formerly) Protestant father – in Germany and how odd it was to be sitting in a glass showcase in an exhibition.

A woman sitting on a bench in a vitreous showcase open at the front

Signe Rossbach in the exhibition “The Whole Truth”, April 8, 2013
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Michal Friedlander

I was reminded of the moment in 1998 when I returned to Germany from the U.S. (although I did not want to see it that way at the time). The German publisher I was working for in New York had just been appointed State Minister of Culture by Gerhard Schröder, and I continued working for him in the Federal Chancellery, first in Bonn, then in Berlin. Back in New York, an editor at Henry Holt said to me: “Well, well, isn’t that a great job for a good little Jewish girl, working in the German government?” I thought about it, and said: “Exactly.”

So, I guess this was what brought me to sit in a glass showcase in a show at the Jewish Museum Berlin, where I have been working for twelve years now, on a seemingly quiet Monday afternoon. In my two hours of being a living exhibition object, I …  continue reading