“Both are home within me:”

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael, Part 2

As we recently announced, this month we would like to show another selection of clips from our video box, “Are you Isaac or Ismael?” This time, we’ve chosen clips of visitors who identify with both sons of Abraham. As one woman poetically put it: “Both are home within me.” That said, who were Isaac and Ismael exactly? And what is their importance in each of the three monotheistic religions?

Lisa Albrecht was again responsible for selecting the video clips. Now and then she’s also found sitting smiling near the video box.

In both Judaism and Christianity, Isaac is the first-born son of Abraham and Sarah.  continue reading

“Other but not Foreign” – David Ranan about His Interviews with Young Jews in Germany

Black and white photography: Portrait of a man

The author © David Ranan

For his book, “The shadows of the past are still long: Young Jews on their lives in Germany,” culture researcher, David Ranan, conducted interviews with Jews between 20-40 whose grandparents survived the Holocaust and then settled in Germany after the war. The London-based author will present his book at the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin on 7 July 2015, as part of the “New German Stories” series. In advance, we asked him three questions.

Julia Jürgens: Mr. Ranan, one question you asked your interviewees deals with the “packed luggage” the first and second generation seem to have at the ready, an expression of their inner conflict between being able to safely stay or having to again flee. Is there still this conflict within the third generation or how else would you describe its sense of belonging to Germany?  continue reading

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael

Video box with Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke

Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke at the video box in the Eric F. Ross Gallery © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

For the last several weeks, an interactive video box has stood in the Eric F. Ross Gallery, as part of the current special exhibition, “Obedience: An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway.” “Are you Isaac or are you Ismael?” a neon sign asks visitors as they approach the box. The question relates to the story from Chapter 22 of the First Book of Moses, in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. However, Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway turn this story on its head. It’s not the voice of God greeting the visitors at the beginning of their installation, but a large-screen projection of various children and young people presenting themselves, each in their own languages, as Isaac or Ismael.  continue reading