A “kosher gnome” and everything’s ok? A conversation with Anna Adam

Woman leaning on a jamb

Anna Adam, “Pastoral care for a German-Polish border post”, March 2015 © Jalda Rebling

It’s not easy to find the way there. Good thing that the artist picked me up at the nearest subway station in Berlin’s Wedding district. Together we cross the courtyards of various businesses, pass a halal diner, climb a staircase, and suddenly we’re standing in front of the door of her atelier. Hardly has Anna opened it when I see the “kosher gnome”, observing the world through his binoculars.

It’s this figure that the artist reproduced in paper cut-out form on a card for our art vending machine: you cut the card and fold it to create a three-dimensional object. The instructions state that you should set him in your kitchen and then everything will be ok.

Atelier Door with "Kosher Gnome"

Atelier Door with “Kosher Gnome” © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photography: Gelia Eisert

Anna, what does the odd name “kosher gnome” mean? How do “kosher” and “gnome” even fit together? How will everything be ok? I’m confused.

At home, a wichtel (in the original German) is an important little man. There are a lot of these “important men”. My “kosher gnome” was born in 2002. He’s definitely supposed to be confusing. “Kosher” and “gnome” fit together because I committed myself to the task of “healing the German-Jewish sickness”, as I call it. To that end I work with satirical means, which – unlike comedy – take everyday politics as a starting point.

You mentioned the year it was born. What were the circumstances of the “kosher gnome”‘s birth?  continue reading


Coal-black language

Girl in an red coat with roses on her hands

Book cover of the German edition of “Blumen für den Führer” © Verlag cbj

Innumerable publications have appeared on the market about the Nazi period in Germany, as well as a steady stream of new novels, non-fiction, and books for children or young adults that deal with this subject. Among them you will find Jürgen Seidel’s “Flowers for the Führer,” the first part of a trilogy that is, according to the reviews, “a very complex, moving, and exciting novel for young adults about a tragic love story during the era of National Socialism,” and is also “worth reading for adults.” Some of us read the trilogy as part of a reading group dedicated to keeping abreast of children’s and young adult literature about Nazism. And we quickly discovered that instead of discussing the depiction of the Nazi regime and German history, we needed to talk about something else: racism.
 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