With a flip of a wrist, showcases turn arbitrary objects into works of art. Now, I can find out what it will do to a human being. I am sitting in a transparent case which is part of the current special exhibition “The Whole Truth… everything you always wanted to know about Jews.” The visitors pass by, and we observe each other. Many read the text on the wall, throw me a look and hurry away.
Olga Mannheimer as a guest in the “Whole Truth” exhibition
© photo: Ernst Fesseler, Jewish Museum Berlin
Some stop, but keep a safe distance. I clear my throat, smile invitingly, and motion to the button on my blouse: “Ask me, I’m Jewish.” I qualified for this position, as I learned from a speech at the opening of the exhibition, by claiming to be able to tell the “whole truth” about Jews. Will anyone ask me to? The distance gradually shortens. One man wants to know what the object label on the case-window says – he does not have his reading-glasses with him. “Species: Diaspora Jew, Sub-species: Eastern European Jew, Variant: Banana Jew.” Thank you, says the man, and leaves quickly. “Banana Jew? Never heard of it,” says a woman. That was the term for Jews in Poland, I explain, who received citrus fruits and bananas from their relatives in the West.
Hesitantly, more people join the bystanders in front of my showcase. “Are you allowed to bring flowers to a seder?” “Can you sew a foreskin back on?” Continue reading
A few years ago, a guest lecturer from New York visited the Berlin synagogue at Fraenkelufer and showed our congregation a new way of practicing an old Rosh ha-Shanah custom, that of tashlikh.
Usually Jews gather for the New Year holiday at the bank of a river and scatter breadcrumbs in the water as a symbolic way of shedding their misdeeds of the last year. The American professor did not strew breadcrumbs in the canal across from the synagogue however; rather, she placed a little homemade paper boat into the water, in which she’d tucked a letter to God. In the letter, she begged for forgiveness for her offences and affirmed her resolutions. The letter also contained thanks for the good experiences of the last year and her wishes for the coming one. Continue reading
Initiated in 2007 by the Israeli artist Yael Bartana, the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland seeks to “bring back” 3.3 millions of Jews, “replenishing” the country which suffered the greatest loss of Jewish life between 1941 and 1945. An estimated three million Polish Jews were murdered by the National Socialists, 300 000 were able to flee.
The Renaissance Movement called an international conference in order to formulate its agenda at the 7th Berlin Biennale in May 2012. The movement was represented at last year’s Venice Biennale by various films portraying fictional “homecomings.” See more: www.jrmip.org/