Kol Nidre and the “Civil Improvement of the Jews” – Controversies throughout the Ages

Religious ceremony with soldiers

Postcard “Kol Nidre outside Metz 1870,” gift of Liselotte Eschenbach, more information on the object in our German-language online collection
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

On 23 September of this year, we will celebrate Yom Kippur. As always on the eve of the Day of Atonement, synagogues will be overflowing with people anxiously waiting for the singing of Kol Nidre, a prayer (in form of a declaration) in Aramaic and Hebrew that implores God to forget “all vows, obligations, oaths or anathemas, pledges of all names, which we have vowed, sworn, devoted, or bound ourselves to,” either from the past year or for the year to come. This somewhat surprising imploration has caused many prominent Jewish thinkers to question the prayer’s validity.  continue reading

“Other but not Foreign” – David Ranan about His Interviews with Young Jews in Germany

Black and white photography: Portrait of a man

The author © David Ranan

For his book, “The shadows of the past are still long: Young Jews on their lives in Germany,” culture researcher, David Ranan, conducted interviews with Jews between 20-40 whose grandparents survived the Holocaust and then settled in Germany after the war. The London-based author will present his book at the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin on 7 July 2015, as part of the “New German Stories” series. In advance, we asked him three questions.

Julia Jürgens: Mr. Ranan, one question you asked your interviewees deals with the “packed luggage” the first and second generation seem to have at the ready, an expression of their inner conflict between being able to safely stay or having to again flee. Is there still this conflict within the third generation or how else would you describe its sense of belonging to Germany?  continue reading

Art Against Forgetting

Young woman with a camera

Hadas Tapouchi © Katja Täubert

History cannot be captured in a single form. Not in brass, not in metal. That is what Hadas Tapouchi says. The Berlin-based Israeli artist believes that monuments and inscriptions miss the actual sense of commemoration. This type of remembrance would be an inevitable path towards forgetting.

Undoubtedly, Hadas works against forgetting. Upon our first meeting at her Tel Aviv apartment about four years ago, the artist’s rendered self-portrait in prisoner’s garb immediately jumped out at me. It was one of the precursors to her project, “The Third Generation“. A countless number of portraits since followed – portraits of mutual friends, the author himself, as well as young men and women between Berlin, Tel Aviv and Ramallah.  continue reading