Our “Diversity in Schools” Program: the Whys, Wherefores, and Lessons Learned

Coulerful tablet with sketches

A “graphic recording” of the ways in which schools and museums can cooperate more closely on diversity issues © JMB, photo: Jule Roehr

We learned a lot in the course of our three-year “Vielfalt in Schulen” [ViS] program, which the Jewish Museum Berlin [JMB] carried out in cooperation with the Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung [DKJS, German Foundation for Children and Young People], with funding courtesy of the Stiftung Mercator [Mercator Foundation]. Journalist Alke Wierth of the national daily paper, tageszeitung, recently helped us weigh up the results.

 

Alke Wierth: Looking back on what you had in mind when launching the “ViS” program, can you recall at which point you first thought: “Things are not going the way we planned?”

Rosa Fava, project leader, JMB: It was right at the start, at one of the meetings with the participating schools, where we discussed their expectations of the program. A lot of the stuff talked about there made me wonder: What on earth has this to do with our concept?

For example?
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Saskia Boddeke: “Their pain will be our pain”

Starting on May 22 the Jewish Museum Berlin will present the exhibition “Obedience” by filmmaker Peter Greenaway and multimedia artist Saskia Boddeke. Designed as an installation in fifteen rooms the exhibition refers to the story of forefather Abraham, who is willing to obey God’s command and sacrifice his son. The two artists use film projections, installations, precious objects, and sound effects and music to stage the biblical narrative as a sensuous and immersive showpiece. For Saskia the “beating heart” of “Obedience” is the film installation “I’m Isaac / I’m Ishmael” which will be presented at the beginning of the exhibition. Children and young adults from all over the world are now being invited to become part of this installation:

In order to encourage our readers to follow this call, make a video and send it to the artists “Blogerim” spoke with Saskia about the idea of the installation and her artistic vision.

Mirjam Wenzel: The biblical story in the Book of Genesis 22 starts with the voice of God telling Abraham to take his son to the land of Moriah for a burnt-offering. But your exhibition will start with the voice of Isaac and Ishmael. Why?  continue reading


“Clever Esther”— Not Suitable for Children?!

Purim is a family celebration, a time when children dress up, make a great din with rattles and gorge themselves on traditional Haman sweetmeats. By so much merriment it seems a little astonishing to recall that this religious holiday is actually rooted in a Bible story that is anything but happy and G-rated.

Male an female puppets in front of an blue screen

King Ahasuerus falls in love with Esther © photo: Shlomit Tulgan

The Book of Esther, which is read on Purim, tells of how the orphan girl Esther carries out a spectacular operation to rescue the Jewish people from the hands of King Ahasuerus, ruler of the Kingdom of Persia. The anonymous author recounts this story in the style of an epic poem and thereby suggests that God plays only a minor role in the proceedings. He turns the spotlight instead on the cunning with which clever Esther and her Uncle Mordechai manage to stop vizier Haman from realizing the pogrom he has planned against the Persian Jews.  continue reading