A journey through two millennia of German Jewish history
Interior view of the Jewish Museum Berlin, "World of Ashkenaz" exhibition segment with trading racks
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe
A journey through two millennia of German Jewish history: In pictures and texts, through art and everyday objects, media terminals and interactive elements, the historical permanent exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin tells of Jewish culture in Germany and of the difficult relationship between Jews and non-Jews. The exhibition is chronological, focusing on specific themes throughout the centuries. On a stroll through the exhibition, our visitors will learn about Jewish religious traditions and discover the life stories of Jewish men and women. Since Jews helped shape various areas of culture and history, they will also encounter many prominent episodes of German history, though this time perhaps through a different lens.
A whole exhibition section is devoted to Glikl bas Juda Leib (1646 – 1724), also known as Gluckel of Hamelin, trader, entrepreneur and mother of 12. In a computer game, our visitors pack Glikl’s suitcase for an upcoming business trip and learn about Jewish professional life in the early modern age.
In the exhibition section "Tradition and Change," we present historical objects alongside contemporary ones, objects used on Shabbat or at celebrations such as circumcisions or weddings. They demonstrate regional influences on Jewish religion and religious trends of various eras.
Many Jewish families, particularly those living in cities, came to wealth in the 19th century and enjoyed a prestigious lifestyle. The Jewish religion lost significance. Quite a number of families celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of the lights. A Christmas tree alongside a valuable Hanukkah menorah bear witness to this new development commonly refered to as "Chrismukkah."
"What does emancipation mean?" We ask our visitors to write down their answers to this question and hang them in our "Emancipation Tree." Personal letters, documents, and souvenirs – primarily donations to the Museum – tell of the Nazi era, of persecution, resistance, and emigration. The final segment of the permanent exhibition is devoted to Jewish life today and to the memories of German Jews and their childhoods and youths spent in Germany after 1945.
Our permanent exhibition is less permanent than the name might suggest, as it is updated regularly. New additions are integrated into the exhibition, media terminal materials are extended and reworked, and theme areas undergo complete reconception and redesign. The suggestions and criticisms from our visitors flow into the planning for these alterations. With fresh exhibits and installations in our exhibition, we hope to remain a lively and engaging museum.