“The Fourth Wall”

An Interview with Daniel Laufer

You can buy a wide variety of works of art from our art vending machine. One such piece is a postcard by Daniel Laufer (*1975, Hanover).

The card shows a film still from the video, “The Fourth Wall” (at 08:13 min). The story is based on an Hasidic parable about two men who are supposed to design one half of a house. While the first man does his work with zeal, the second delays, uninspired. The second man, who is certain that he won’t come up with a better idea than his rival, decides to coat his work with black bitumen. The material will reflect the other half of the house like a mirror. Thus he discovers a good solution to avoid defeat.

Photograph shows various reflections in a room

Postcard with still shot from the film “The Fourth Wall” by Daniel Laufer
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

The film was shown this year at the 14th Videonale at the Bonn Art Museum.
In the following interview, Daniel Laufer talks about the genesis and message of his postcard.

Christiane Bauer: Daniel, you work mostly in video form. Yet you produced a postcard for the art vending machine. Why did you choose this format?

Daniel Laufer: A postcard is something mobile that you can take with you. It connects you to something: it provides information and contains a message. It can be a souvenir – but with a statement. And I also like the fact that you can hang it on the wall.

The original work of art is an entire film. Why did you choose this particular shot as a motif for the postcard?  continue reading


Question of the Month:
“What role do gender themes play?”

“What’s the story with women rabbis? (And prayer at the Western Wall?)”

Post-it note: "What role do gender themes play? What’s the story with women rabbis? (And prayer at the Western Wall?)"

The question of the month in the special exhibition “The Whole Truth”
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Anina Falasca

Our special exhibition “The Whole Truth… everything you always wanted to know about Jews” is based on 30 questions posed to the Jewish Museum Berlin or its staff over the past few years. In the exhibition, visitors have their own opportunity to ask questions or to leave comments on post-it notes. We answer some of these questions here in our blog.

The question about the roles of men and women in Judaism is interesting because traditional notions about these roles have changed dramatically over the course of the last century. As in every religion, there are also many opinions about this issue among Jews. These correspond with the tendencies of orthodox, conservative, or liberal currents in Judaism, which – while they grapple with the same questions – come to quite different conclusions.  continue reading


Question of the Month:

“Why do some Jews rock back and forth while they pray?”

Our special exhibition “The Whole Truth… everything you always wanted to know about Jews” is based on 30 questions posed to the Jewish Museum Berlin or its staff over the past few years. In the exhibition, visitors have their own opportunity to ask questions or to leave comments on post-it notes. Some of these questions will be answered here in our blog, such as last month’s query: “how does a kippah stay on?” This month, we respond to Boris, who wants to know “why some Jews rock back and forth while they pray?”

A post-it note with the question of the month (in German) and a drawing of a man moving back and forth

“Why do some Jews rock back and forth while they pray? Boris”
© photo: Thomas Valentin Harb, Jewish Museum Berlin

Dear Boris,
Many people have asked why religious Jews sway back and forth while praying. This very old custom is called shuckling in Yiddish and means to rock, shake, or swing. As with many customs, it is easier to describe when and where it was practiced, than to answer definitively, why people shuckle while praying and studying the Torah.  continue reading