Israelis in Berlin: between the hype and the reality

More and more young Israelis are moving to Berlin, bustling between Berghain and meshuggah parties, Neukölln and Prenzlauer Berg. The media can’t stop talking about them, but the vogue isn’t only due to the 50-years of diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel. There are in fact not a few young people moving to the German capital with innovative ideas and youthful brio, dabbling in the start-up or art scenes, running cafes, organizing parties.


color photograph of the skyline of Berlin

Berlin’s skyline with a view of the Jewish Museum © Michele Nastasi


So what does that life really look like?
Last year I met Noga at a Berlin gallery and we quickly started talking about family, Berlin, and Israel. In September of 2010, Noga and her husband Zeevi moved to Berlin with just two suitcases – not to enjoy the party scene here for awhile, but to stay. I met with both of them to talk about their life in Berlin.

Jihan Radjai: Why did you decide to move to Berlin?  continue reading

Happy Moments for a Curator
Ilse Bing’s Photograph “New York—The Elevated and Me”

A self-portrait shot by Ilse Bing on her first trip to New York in 1936 has been imprinted on my mind’s eye for a very long time. The image was up for sale only twice in the last twenty years. On the first occasion, in 2009, a vintage print went at auction for the princely sum of 25,000.00 EUR. Given its rarity and great market value, I imagined at the time that the enchanting image was unlikely ever to become a part of our collection. For me, it came to be the very epitome of wishful thinking.

black white photograph of the skyline New York with Ilse Bing in specular reflection

Ilse Bing, “New York—The Elevated and Me,” print from 1988 of the original negative from 1936. Jewish Museum Berlin © Estate of Ilse Bing


The photograph depicts a station on the Elevated (subway line) in New York and the reflection in a small round mirror of the photographer with her Leica. The title “New York—The Elevated and Me” underscores the hybridity here of cityscape and self-portrait.

 continue reading

From the ceramic jug to the Pineapple Goblet: Working with archival items

photograph of the storage room of the Jewish Museum Berlin with an opened glass cabinet

View of Jewish Musem-Berlin storage,© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

It’s cold. The neon light casts a harsh glare. A gray cabinet stands next to another along white walls. The room feels sterile. The air conditioning hums. A gloomy place.

I put on blue, latex gloves, open one of the cabinets and take out a gray carton. Contours of an item shimmer from under layers of tissue paper. Carefully, I take the object out of the carton and free it from the paper; a microcosm of history presents itself, as if this gloomy place accentuates the aura of the item, the room itself taking a whole step back.  continue reading