Between everyday life in prison and Jewish mediation work

“on.tour” in prison

In the foreground various Jewish objects, in the background inmates sitting in a circle on exhibition cubes

Guides discussing exhibition cubes and hands-on material with inmates; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

I had hardly returned from the summer holidays this year when I went straight to “jail!” But don’t worry, my criminal record still has zero entries. Rather, my visit to prison occurred in the context of our so-called “Prison Week.” This was where our mobile education initiative, “on.tour – The JMB tours schools,” visited the juvenile detention centers at Plötzensee and Neustrelitz. These two days gave me the opportunity to gain insight into the young prisoners’ everyday lives. The experiences I had there were incredibly interesting and corrected some ideas I had previously had about correctional facilities.

Cold – grey – dreary: when you think of jail, it’s not the most inviting pictures that come to mind. I was all the more astonished then, when I walked into the juvenile detention center at Neustrelitz.  continue reading

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“I don’t laugh about religion. I laugh about human behavior.”

An Interview with Eran Shakine

Today, on 27 October 2016 at 7 pm, our exhibition “A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew” is opening with Eran Shakine in attendance. In the run-up to the opening, Gregor H. Lersch spoke with the Israeli artist about religion, art, and his sources of inspiration.

Portrait of Eran Shakine

Eran Shakine; photo: Shay Kedem

Gregor H. Lersch: What does “A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew” (MCJ) show?

Eran Shakine: “A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew…” sounds like the beginning of a joke. But that is just to get your attention.

The show is an installation consisting of 40 paintings, drawings, and three metal cut-out sculptures.

The three similar figures, their religious background unidentifiable, create situations by means of a vivid and comical body language. In every drawing they witness and experience major events in history or philosophy, or meet important figures like Moses, Buddha or Nelson Mandela. The three heroes, dressed as 19th century gentlemen, help each other in their journey to find the love of God.

Here, there are no stereotypes, no one is the laughingstock, everyone is the same; we see three human beings who explore life, nature, culture and philosophy, out of shared curiosity, without trying to prove each other wrong.

Why did you start to work on MCJ?  continue reading


The Boredom of Peaceful Coexistence – an Interview with Ármin Langer

Portrait of Ármin Langer

Ármin Langer; Foto: Kat Kaufmann

As part of the series “New German Stories,” we will present the book Ein Jude in Neukölln. Mein Weg zum Miteinander der Religionen (A Jew in Neukölln. My path to the coexistence of religions) by Ármin Langer on 19 October 2016. The author, who will be our guest on this evening, will talk about his life as a Jewish activist and his experiences as coordinator of the Berlin Salaam-Shalom initiative that sets an example of peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

We asked Ármin Langer three questions:

Alina Gromova: Ármin, you decided at the age of 21 years to become a rabbi even though you are from a secular family. What led you to this decision back then?

Ármin Langer: Already as a child I was open to religion, but this feeling found no frame until I was 20.  continue reading