“Both are home within me:”

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael, Part 2

As we recently announced, this month we would like to show another selection of clips from our video box, “Are you Isaac or Ismael?” This time, we’ve chosen clips of visitors who identify with both sons of Abraham. As one woman poetically put it: “Both are home within me.” That said, who were Isaac and Ismael exactly? And what is their importance in each of the three monotheistic religions?

Lisa Albrecht was again responsible for selecting the video clips. Now and then she’s also found sitting smiling near the video box.

In both Judaism and Christianity, Isaac is the first-born son of Abraham and Sarah.  continue reading

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael

Video box with Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke

Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke at the video box in the Eric F. Ross Gallery © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

For the last several weeks, an interactive video box has stood in the Eric F. Ross Gallery, as part of the current special exhibition, “Obedience: An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway.” “Are you Isaac or are you Ismael?” a neon sign asks visitors as they approach the box. The question relates to the story from Chapter 22 of the First Book of Moses, in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. However, Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway turn this story on its head. It’s not the voice of God greeting the visitors at the beginning of their installation, but a large-screen projection of various children and young people presenting themselves, each in their own languages, as Isaac or Ismael.  continue reading

New arrivals: artwork for the vending machine

The last few weeks have been full of hectic hustle and bustle, with boxes being passed from hand to hand, examined, unpacked, and sorted through. Such a variety of objects emerged from their cases and seemed to be disseminating in every direction through the museum.

Cards with blue printings

© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Gelia Eisert

Blue prints were spread out over a long, dark red sheet. Words seemed to glow in them – was it “tekhelet” or “argaman” or both? And what do they mean anyway?

"Magic" Card on a table in the kitchenette

© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Gelia Eisert


A “magic” card appeared in a kitchenette. Suddenly everything was kosher: the sink, the refrigerator, the dishes, the whole kitchen. The artist promised it would be, and thus it happened.  continue reading