“The Maccabiah Is a Strong Symbol Against Anti-Semitism”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Sarah Geldmann (25), Hockey

Young woman with hockey stick

Sarah (25) hockey © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Sarah, what meaning does it hold for you that the European Maccabi Games are taking place in Berlin?

The symbolism is intense, I think. We represent Jewish life in Germany, and, as hosts, we can show other nations that there aren’t just a few of us in Germany, as some may think. There is Jewish life here, and Berlin has become a hotspot for Israelis. Even if some had concerns, it’ll for sure be a great event.

Jewish athletes were barred from the 1936 Olympics. Now this is exactly where most of the European Maccabi Games are taking place. What do you think about that?

Of course, it has a huge historical meaning. There are survivors who are with us, and I’m proud we can show them we’re here again.  continue reading


“I see a land bright and clear,
and the time’s comin’ near
When we’ll live in this land, you and me…”

Pessach is approaching – the festival of exodus and freedom. This year, there is less talk of having the festive meal at large community gatherings. It is obvious, although unspoken, that smaller gatherings in the home make more sense. We are becoming alienated from our community centers through fear. Keep a low profile. Don’t speak Hebrew on the streets. Some people are removing the mezuzah from their front doorposts, a traditional object that visibly identifies a Jewish household. There is a mood of caution and nervous apprehension.

How did it get to this point?

Advertisement for the "Cycling Unites"-Critical-Mass-Tour in Berlin on 22 March 2015: Imam Ferid Heider and Rabbi Daniel Alter are cycling together

Advertisement with Imam Ferid Heider and Rabbi Daniel Alter for the “Cycling Unites”-Critical-Mass-Tour in Berlin on 22 March 2015, photo: Michal Friedlander

June, 2014
A drunken man rolls slowly off the train platform and plops onto the tracks at Friedrichstrasse station. Around sixty people witness the moment and look away, hoping that someone else will solve the stinky, awkward problem. And so it was. An Italian and an Israeli jumped down to haul the semi-conscious man to safety. The passengers walked around the startled little group, pressing forward to make the oncoming train.

July 2014
Dinner party small talk. The discussions nearest me are taking a more political turn and I am just not in the mood to talk about Israel. Too late. The young man next to me asks if I saw the recent pro-Palestinian demonstration on the Kurfürstendamm? He becomes very still and lowers his voice.  continue reading


Praise, Every Day:

From the In-Box of the Blog Editorial

Luckily, this blog receives anti-Semitic comments only rarely. When the case arises, we, the moderators, ask ourselves – as we do with all comments – whether we should publish them and make them visible for others, or not? Should we post this type of aggressive nonsense for the sake of transparency and documentation, and reveal the statements a Jewish museum has to deal with? Should we perhaps even reply to them and invalidate the commentator’s ‘arguments,’ if he or she has any? Or would we be offering anti-Semites an unwarranted platform? So far, we have opted against publishing the type of comment which reproduces age-old theories of world conspiracy. Such delusions are far too widely proliferated already, and we neither want to spread them further nor compel our readers to take them seriously on the Jewish Museum’s blog.

An individual in front of a computer spreading comments

Blog editor at work

Much more often, the blog’s inbox contains a chorus of praise: “Thanks for the wise analysis,” one reader tells us, or, an even more enthusiastic writer: “Super-Duper website! I am loving it!! Will come back again.”

Some are positively ecstatic:  continue reading