Atheism and a Critique of Religion in a Children’s Book

During the week of October 21 to 27, 2013 the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books will be introduced here over the course of the next few months.
Multifaceted books for children and young adults

In order to be able to recommend books, we had to choose a focus and select appropriate books. It was clear from the start that finding good books about migration and coexistence was important to us. And we also considered the meaning of religion as a topic. Interestingly, everyone in our reading group agreed that we should include books with Islamic themes as well as Jewish ones. At the beginning, we hesitated as to whether to add books about Christianity, but ultimately decided to select narrative children’s and young adult books that represent all three religions. And we hope to be able to recommend a number of them.

It was in this context that I came across the book, Wo bitte geht’s zu Gott?, fragte das kleine Ferkel (Which is the Way to God, Please? Little Piglet Asked) by Michael Schmidt-Salomon with pictures by Helge Nyncke.  continue reading


Gaggalagu

Linguistic Entanglements in the Animal Kingdom

During the week of October 21 to 27, 2013 the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, in cooperation with Kulturkind e.V., will host readings, workshops, and an open day for the public with the theme “Multifaceted: a book week on diversity in children’s and young adult literature.” Employees of various departments have been vigorously reading, discussing, and preparing a selection of books for the occasion. Some of these books will be introduced here over the course of the next few months.
Multifaceted books for children and young adultsWith strange combinations of letters on the feathers, fur, and skin of different animals who stand lost upon a map: I was so drawn to the cover picture of Gaggalagu that I instantly reached for it in our reading group.

Released in 2006 by kookbooks, through a publisher that until now I only associated with volumes of poetry for adults, it is very appealingly and elaborately designed. It was a surprise to learn that this little press also publishes children’s books. Before this, I had also never heard of the author, Michael Stavarič, and the illustrator, Renate Habinger, was new to me as well.  continue reading


Saving a Cat

Everyday Absurdities at the Museum

Sometimes even a museum’s normal workday provides surprises. About a week ago I found in my postbox a letter from the provincial capital of Stuttgart, specifically, from its office for public order.

A cat in the grass next to a fence

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This work by Iris Blochel-Dittrich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Information about fines and tickets occasionally lands on my desk, since I am in charge of a team that travels around Germany in our museum bus doing mobile educational work at schools. In the struggle against ignorance and anti-Semitism, speed is of the essence. So I flipped through to the second page to ascertain how much we owed this time: € 104,80. For animal custody and veterinary services?! This is no normal parking ticket.

I turned back to the first page and read the letter from top to bottom: “Saving Ms. K’s cat.” Did my colleagues run over a cat, or did they find one and take it to the animal shelter?  continue reading