As part of the series New German Stories, of the Academy Programs of the Jewish Museum Berlin we presented the book Ein Jude in Neukölln. Mein Weg zum Miteinander der Religionen (A Jew in Neukölln. My path to the coexistence of religions) by Ármin Langer on 19 October 2016. The author, who was our guest on this evening, spoke about his life as a Jewish activist and reported on his experiences as coordinator of the Berlin initiative Salaam-Schalom that sets an example of peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.
Before the event, Alina Gromova asked Ármin Langer the following three questions:
Ármin, you decided at the age of 21 years to become a rabbi even though you are from a secular family. What led you to this decision back then?
Already as a child I was open to religion, but this feeling found no frame until I was 20. After moving from the small town where I grew up and in which there was no Jewish community to Budapest, I was able to take part in a Jewish service for the first time in my life. I knew I was in the right place.
In your book A Jew in Neukölln. My path to the coexistence of religions, you write that peaceful coexistence between Jews and Muslims in everyday life is in most cases taken for granted. Why then have you written a book about something that is implicit?
This implicitness is seen only by us, some Jews and Muslims in Neukölln – for everyone else who does not have encounters with neighbors of other faiths, this implicitness is invisible. Jews from Charlottenburg or “Biodeutsche” from Marzahn do not know how it is to have Muslim neighbors. They cannot report on the boredom of peaceful coexistence because they are part of more or less homogeneous neighborhoods. These people are of course thus more open to prejudice. When there are reports about Muslims in the media, it is always in connection with terrorist attacks – this only confirms these prejudices. That’s why I wrote this book – to show how coexistence in Neukölln works.
You claim that Jewish life in present-day Germany is not normal and Jews in this country are “treated like sacred cows.” What do you think could change this situation?
One should realize that Jews are neither better nor worse than non-Jews. If there is corruption in the Jewish Community in Berlin and municipal elections are manipulated, I think that should be brought to the public’s attention. We Jews also have our Tebartz-van Elsts. Many of us would welcome critical discourse on political and theological issues in our communities – this is the only way for us to evolve and contribute to a peaceful coexistence.
The questions were posed by Alina Gromova (Academy program on migration and diversity).
Alina Gromova (2016), “The boredom of peaceful coexistence“. Three Questions to Ármin Langer.
Interview Series: New German Stories (12)
New German Stories
Since 2014, our colleagues from the Academy program on migration and diversity have been holding regular events at the Jewish Museum in a series called New German Stories. The guests' lives speak to Germany, past and present, as a society of migration, and the events take these life stories as a springboard for exploring these themes. Beforehand, the guests are almost always interviewed. We have compiled these interviews for you here.
26 May 2017
“We should close this representation gap”
6 February 2017
On her book Our Father – A Sinti Family Recounts
18 October 2016
“The boredom of peaceful coexistence“
6 July 2016
"The part Black soldiers played in the liberation of Germany from Nazism has been largely neglected"
13 October 2015
“We’ve always been spoken and written about”
16 September 2015
“I wish more people would look in my eyes instead of at my scarf”
6 July 2015
“Other but not foreign”
Ahmad Milad Karimi
9 March 2015
On his book Osama bin Laden is Sleeping with Fishes
8 September 2014
Generation “kosher light”
Young Jews of Russian descent in Berlin
4 July 2014
A cinematic tribute to my grandmother
Urmila Goel and Nisa Punnamparambil-Wolf
19 March 2014
Dealing creatively with ethnic classifications
Alice Bota, Khuê Pham, and Özlem Topçu
29 January 2014
“New German stories”