A Look at Jewish Life in Shanghai through Chinese Eyes

Ghetto Life and Beautiful Shoes

The author of this blog post looking at high-heeled shoes which are described in the text below

Wei Zhang looking at shoes “made in China”, which are part of the Jewish Museum Berlin’s collection; permanent loan by Marion Schubert, née Salomon; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Christoph Kreutzmüller

As a student studying the Holocaust at the University of Haifa, I was honored to do a short-term internship at the Jewish Museum Berlin with the team working on the new permanent exhibition. Before it began, I came across a small passage in the book Jewish Responses to Persecution: 1938–1940 (ed. by Jürgen Matthäus, Alexandra Garbarini, Plymouth: AltaMira Press, 2010) written in late 1938, directly after the November pogroms, that illustrated the desperation of German Jews (especially those in Berlin):

“There is one Jewish café open in Berlin. Anyone who wants to see what likely suicides look like should enter this café. The conversation of people sitting there revolves round two topics: how to obtain a passage to Shanghai or how to commit suicide.”

A question came to my mind: Could I find something related to Shanghai, the city where about 20,000 Ashkenazi Jews found refuge, here? As I started my research in the museum’s collection, I was excited to find an abundance of such information. Now I would like to share these stories with you.  continue reading


The Dress of the Unfaithful Wife

Artist Andi Arnovitz Questions Traditional Matrimonial Law

A dress maide from Japanese paper, hair, dirt, film and threads

The Dress of the Unfaithful Wife by Andi LaVine Arnovitz, 2009; photo: Avshlom Avital

In our current exhibition, Cherchez la femme, a transparent dress seems to reveal everything. The Israeli-American artist Andi LaVine Arnovitz created a delicate work of art from washi paper, hair, and Hebrew letters. Locks of hair adorn the paper dress, hinting at the beauty of its wearer. But how to interpret the other components, the grime and coarse body hair?

The individually placed letters are the key to understanding this piece. They point to the biblical ritual described in the Torah, Numbers 5: 11–31, on which this work is based:  continue reading


Art and Sanctuary: An Encounter Project in the Blue Room

Empty easles in front of a deep blue wall

The Blue Room – things remain exciting! Photo: Barbara Rösch

A boat made of wood and painted canvas strips, a yodeling flamingo, a photograph of turquoise tiles from a Berlin subway station, two cake replicas, metamorphosed Ugaritic letters, a fisherman, a play. What do they all have to do with each other? They are all going to be exhibited at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

And what do a car-body painter, well known in his native Iraq, an architect from Syria, a young Egyptian chef, a painter from the former Soviet Union, a Greek doctoral student, and a social worker from right here in Berlin have in common? They will all be exhibiting at the Jewish Museum Berlin this summer.

On July 12 a group exhibition entitled The Blue Room opens. It will be the high point of a meeting project that I have been supervising since January.  continue reading