A Look at Jewish Life in Shanghai through Chinese Eyes

Ghetto Life and Beautiful Shoes

The author of this blog post looking at high-heeled shoes which are described in the text below

Wei Zhang looking at shoes “made in China”, which are part of the Jewish Museum Berlin’s collection; permanent loan by Marion Schubert, née Salomon; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Christoph Kreutzmüller

As a student studying the Holocaust at the University of Haifa, I was honored to do a short-term internship at the Jewish Museum Berlin with the team working on the new permanent exhibition. Before it began, I came across a small passage in the book Jewish Responses to Persecution: 1938–1940 (ed. by Jürgen Matthäus, Alexandra Garbarini, Plymouth: AltaMira Press, 2010) written in late 1938, directly after the November pogroms, that illustrated the desperation of German Jews (especially those in Berlin):

“There is one Jewish café open in Berlin. Anyone who wants to see what likely suicides look like should enter this café. The conversation of people sitting there revolves round two topics: how to obtain a passage to Shanghai or how to commit suicide.”

A question came to my mind: Could I find something related to Shanghai, the city where about 20,000 Ashkenazi Jews found refuge, here? As I started my research in the museum’s collection, I was excited to find an abundance of such information. Now I would like to share these stories with you.  continue reading


The Dress of the Unfaithful Wife

Artist Andi Arnovitz Questions Traditional Matrimonial Law

A dress maide from Japanese paper, hair, dirt, film and threads

The Dress of the Unfaithful Wife by Andi LaVine Arnovitz, 2009; photo: Avshlom Avital

In our current exhibition, Cherchez la femme, a transparent dress seems to reveal everything. The Israeli-American artist Andi LaVine Arnovitz created a delicate work of art from washi paper, hair, and Hebrew letters. Locks of hair adorn the paper dress, hinting at the beauty of its wearer. But how to interpret the other components, the grime and coarse body hair?

The individually placed letters are the key to understanding this piece. They point to the biblical ritual described in the Torah, Numbers 5: 11–31, on which this work is based:  continue reading


What You Saw, When You Lay on Sigmund Freud’s Couch

One hundred and sixty-one years ago today Sigmund Freud was born. In honor of his birthday we would like to recommend a video by Nurit Yedlin, which discusses the founder of psychoanalysis with the aid of a miniature version of Freud’s study in Vienna.

A film by Nurit Yedlin, Tel Aviv, 2016

For 47 years Freud treated his patients in the study reproduced here, before emigrating to London via Paris with his family after the Nazi annexation of Austria in June of 1938.

If you’re in a more playful mood you can address the question of what you actually see when you lie on that couch — in an online game on our website that we developed here at the Jewish Museum Berlin for a past exhibition on psychoanalysis. You will find further documentation of that show as well as publications on Freud and his work at www.jmberlin.de/en/sigmund-freud

Have fun browsing!