Confident Women in Veils

The Italian Writer Elena Loewenthal Reflects on Strong Jewish Women in the Torah

The current exhibition Cherchez la Femme, which explores religious dress codes for women from women’s perspectives, remains on display until 27 August (more about the exhibition on our website). When I first found out the exhibition’s theme, I immediately thought of the novel Attese (2004) by the Italian author Elena Loewenthal. (The title means either “expectations” or “times of waiting.”) In four extended sections, the novel tells the stories of different Jewish female characters throughout the ages. But the novel’s real main character is a mysterious veil that follows the protagonists from Biblical times to modern-day Venice.

two white head coverings for women displayed in the exhibition

Veils in the exhibition Cherchez la femme; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Mirjam Bitter

We can read the veil as a metaphorical vessel of Jewish memory that women have guarded and passed on, a vessel that embodies recollection and forgetting, tradition and renewal. Indeed, the reasons each woman in the novel dons the veil are not only cultural (such as marking mourning) but personal: each of them reshapes it, sews in her own threads, or at least cultivates an idiosyncratic relationship with the garment she inherited.  continue reading

“A living permanent exhibition that always offers something new”

Last round (for now) for the art vending machine

It is one of our museum’s little success stories: this year will see the art vending machine’s fifth (and, for now, last) tour of duty in the permanent exhibition. After five years “Art from the Vending Machine” will have sold over 12,250 works. Maren Krüger, curator of the permanent exhibition, explains its achievement thus: “We know that visitors enjoy taking something away with them, that they like surprises and are interested in the present time. In addition, we want a permanent exhibition that’s alive, that always offers something new. That’s how the concept emerged.”

Seven women in front of the art vending machine

The artists of the fifth round of the art vending machine; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

As with all projects that work well, a number of people were involved. First of all, there’s Christiane Bauer, our former colleague who supplied the idea. She was inspired by the art vending machines at the Kunsttick Agency, which can now be found all over Germany. In fact, while searching online for a suitable model, she came upon an old vending machine from the 70s that stood in a sports center in the Rhineland-Palatinate province. First though, it had to be transported to Berlin…  continue reading

“Informative, unexpected, rich in variety”

Our visitors on Cherchez la femme

For over three months, the exhibition Cherchez la femme has allowed visitors to explore the topic of women’s head coverings in three of the world’s major religions. Among other things, the exhibition demonstrates that the borders of (religious) clothing rules are constantly being redrawn and reinterpreted.

Since we’re very interested in the opinions of our visitors, we asked around about what people thought at the exhibition:

Christian (39), Ludwigsburg, pastor, teaches German and history

Which object did you like the best?

Gallery of different examples for headscarves

Different kinds of head coverings; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

The gallery with the different kinds of head coverings. I was impressed by the attention to detail. For example, I didn’t know how many differences

there were between headscarves, between Turkish and Arab styles.

What significance does your own hair have to you?

It’s important to me that I look good. I go to the barber regularly.

Would you say that you follow any clothing rules?  continue reading