The Jewish Culture Center in Berlin, 1990 – 2010

Hhanukka candleholder in front of a banner: Happy Chanukka. Jüdischer Kulturverein Berlin

Hanukkah Candleholder at the 15th Hanukkah Ball of the Jewish Culture Center, Berlin 12.12.2004 © Photo: Igor Chalmiev, gift of the Jewish Culture Center to the Jewish Museum Berlin

25 years ago today, on 22 January, 1990, the Jewish Culture Center was founded. One month prior, on 13 December, 1989, an appeal was published in numerous East German newspapers by the press agency ADN. It announced a new coalition of Jews living in East Germany who were committed to spreading the knowledge of Jewish culture and history. The appeal was not an accident:

As early as 1986, secular Jews had found themselves gathering, at the invitation of the Jewish Congregation of (East) Berlin, to explore their Jewish roots – a heritage that no longer played any role in their parents’ identities. A group formed, “We, for us – Jews for Jews”, out of this second generation of political emigrants who had returned to Germany and grown up in the East. During their regular meetings  continue reading


“It was only later that I had my doubts.” A conversation about mixed emotions triggered by ritual circumcision

Black and white photography: The godfather’ chair and the infant carrier with Yair

Before the circumcision ceremony: the godfather’s chair and the infant carrier with Yair © photo: Birgit Glatzel

Naomi converted to Judaism six years ago. Shortly afterwards she became pregnant, went to live with her boyfriend Avishay in Tel Aviv, and gave birth there to a son, Yair, who was circumcised as Jewish law demands. In the meantime the couple has moved to Berlin and separated. Naomi recently showed me the photos she took at the ceremony and we talked about her thoughts on ritual circumcision, then and now.

Mirjam: What was your very first thought when you heard you were expecting a son?

Naomi: I was delighted. For Avishay and I, it was also clear from the get-go that we’d have him circumcised. But, to be honest, we neither gave the matter much thought nor prepared for it in any way. It is Jewish tradition to  continue reading


Moves to Establish a Research Library for Jewish Art

Seven books and booklets

Gray literature held by the library, Gross Family Collection © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photo: Lea Weik

The library of the Jewish Museum Berlin is growing day by day. Since early 2014, this has been particularly noticeable in the Jewish visual and applied arts section, which currently stocks about 10,000 media objects (books, journals, non-book media, etc.). As part of the framework of a project funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation), which I have been working on for the past year, our team has had the opportunity to make essential acquisitions and to close existing gaps in this area. Further expansion is planned—and will take us another big step towards our goal of establishing a research library for Jewish art and cultural history.

Before the first Jewish visual and applied arts publications arrived at the library, there were many tasks to be performed: first and foremost, to settle the question,  continue reading