A Kind of Family Gathering – Bitter Herbs and Their Relatives in the Diaspora Garden

Yellow plate with foods made of clay and the inscriptions: “Pessah” in the center and all around the edge “Chazeret”, “Beitzah”, “Zeroa”, “Maror”, “Charoset”, and “Karpas”

Shlomit Tulgan made this Seder plate from clay for our children’s exhibition on Passover; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe.

It’s Seder and the family is getting together. Some are traveling from farther away, others are flourishing right here. At the table are escarole, lettuce, parsley, kohlrabi, Belgian endive, and dandelion. But what about horseradish and red radish? They’re both late this year.

The story of the plants and their fruits that have particular meaning on the Seder plate at Passover could be told in various similar ways. They all grow in the Diaspora Garden, which you can visit inside the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy at the Jewish Museum.  continue reading


Hanukkah

“8 Facts” about the Jewish Feast of Dedication

A teddybear holding a burning candle sits alongside an eight-branched lampstand

Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

1
The history of the Jewish Festival of Lights is about the one temple in Jerusalem. To be precise, about its re-consecration (“Hanukkah”) in the year 164 B.C.E. after it had stood for many years under Syrian-Greek control.

 


2

During this period of foreign rule, two groups were in conflict: on the one side was the Seleucid Empire under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, while on the other side were the courageous Maccabees led by the priest Mattathias and his sons.  continue reading


“If I were a rich mouse …”

— the Hanukkah Message?

The hanukkah candelarium described in the text on a table together with presents, a lamp and a dreidel

Mice with a vice
Photo: CC-BY Michal Friedlander

I have been using the same Hanukkah lamp for nearly 20 years. I find it aesthetically-challenging and totally impractical: it is difficult to clean and the candles fall out. Yet I persist in using it because it provokes me to think. When I put the illuminated, figurative lamp on the windowsill to publicly “proclaim the Hanukkah miracle of light,” the same three questions always resurface in my mind: “Who designed this lamp?,” “What were they thinking?,” and, “Are Mickey and Minnie Mouse actually Jewish?”  continue reading