The Whole Truth
... everything you always wanted to know about Jews
An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Berlin in cooperation with the Jewish Museum Hohenems
A Rabbi is asked why Jews always answer a question with another question. "Why not?" he replies. The response throws the question back to the asker, provoking him or her to rethink the matter independently. At the same time, refusing to answer the question expresses the belief that there are no right or wrong answers, but a large number of valid responses.
With the exhibition "The Whole Truth," the Jewish Museum Berlin confronts various questions about Judaism and being Jewish: the FAQs, the difficult questions, the funny questions, the clever questions, and the questions that really have no answer.
Some of them make the questioner uneasy, some are politically incorrect, while others betray something about the person who asks them.
How does someone become a Jew? What am I, if my mother is Christian and my father is Jewish? What is the Jewish take on Jesus and Mohammed? Are the Jews a Chosen People?
With an even-handed and witty touch, we present questions through extraordinary objects and installations taken from religious practice, everyday life and contemporary art.
"How do you recognize a Jew?"
One of the installations guides visitors through 70 Jewish hats, among them a shtreimel, a borsalino, a mitznefet, and kippot with motifs of a Mercedes’s star and Angry Birds – some are traditional, some are funny, others are commercial items. Some Jewish hats took their shapes from historical dress regulations and can be understood, even today, as signs of religious as well as ideological and political identification and affiliation. Other head coverings are discreet symbols of an affiliation that the wearer wishes to demonstrate to the outside world.
"Ask the Rabbi"
In a life-size film installation, visitors encounter rabbinic answers to questions concerning religious laws in everyday life. Seven rabbis in service in Germany provide information from various perspectives – orthodox, liberal, conservative, progressive – and to various questions: Can a person be Jewish without being circumcised? Can a Jew ever stop being a Jew? What is the significance of Jesus and Muhammad for Judaism?
In our blog you can gain insight into the shooting of this film.
"Jews in a showcase"
"Are there any Jews left in Germany?" This question is answered by means of a highly unusual 'exhibit.' At selected times, a Jewish guest will take a seat in a showcase and will – if desired – react to visitors’ questions and comments. If you would like to know the names of our invited showcase guests in advance, please consult our facebook-page or follow our tweets.
During the Long Museum Night on 31 August 2013, six guests will be in the showcase. For more information, see our events calender.
22 March 2013 - 1 September 2013
Old Building, first level
with the museum ticket (7 euros, reduced rate 3,50 euros)
Throughout the exhibition, literary and documentary voices speak about Jewish identity today. Visitors will not receive simple or 'right' answers, but will hear a multitude of opinions varying according to the speakers. The exhibition presents 180 objects which offer insight into Jewish thinking and inner-Jewish questions of identity, in particular those that develop in a non-Jewish environment.
"The Whole Truth" picks up on controversial social debates, asks counter questions and sensitizes the viewers to stereotypical images and patterns of thought. And, every once in a while, a question will be answered. For instance, on our blog Blogerim, or here:
The JMB Journal no. 8 accompanies the 2013 spring exhibition "The Whole Truth …everything you always wanted to know about Jews." In 100 pages and nine essays, it addresses questions pertaining to Judaism and Jewish identity that are echoed in the exhibition's topics. And so, for example, the Swiss literary scholar Caspar Battegay explores the possibility of representing "Jewish normality" in contemporary German film, the British columnist and documentary filmmaker Toby Lichtig analyzes the debates surrounding the practice and ritual of circumcision, the Berlin-based columnist Leeor Engländer zeros in on stereotypes, and the Talmud scholar Daniel Boyarin answers questions on Shabbat, sex and Satan.
Events Accompanying the Exhibition
Accompanying the exhibition, the museum offers a film series on the theme, an evening with three rabbis answering questions, as well as guided tours through the exhibition and a workshop for students and young adults.
30 May 2013, 7.30 pm
How can a Jew go to Heaven? One question, many answers
Program director Cilly Kugelmann interviews four practicing rabbi in Germany about otherworldly and commonplace matters, about dietary laws, sin, Shabbat and all that is important in Judaism. The rabbis represent four different religious currents: Orthodox, Masorti (conservative), Hasidism, and German Reform Judaism. They will answer questions from the audience about God and the world and throw light on their perspectives of Jewish theology.
Avichai Apel, born in Jerusalem, rabbi to the Jewish religious community of greater Dortmund and board member of the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference Germany.
Dr. Daniel Katz, born in New York, rabbi to the Conservative Jewish community of Weiden and founding member of the General Rabbinical Conference.
Yehuda Teichtal, born in New York, rabbi to the Jewish community of Berlin and chairman of the Jewish Education Center Chabad Lubavitch, Berlin.
Jona Simon, born in Bielefeld, rabbi of the National Association of Jewish Communities of Lower Saxony.
1 July 2013, 7.30 pm
From Exile in Paradise to Redemption in Hell
Jews and Judaism in Germany: past, present and future
Talk David Solomon in English
The encounter between German and Jewish culture has resulted in a remarkable story that has shaped the modern world.
In his unique and innovative style, globally roaming scholar, teacher and writer David Solomon will survey the complex and fascinating history of the Jews of Germany, with a view to addressing several basic questions; among them: what defines a Jew in Germany, and why are Jews living in Germany today?