Museums, temples, and kosher coffee shops – it’s still there, despite the darkest chapter of European history: Jewish culture in Berlin. And still it plays an important role in shaping the face of the city. Did you know how closely linked the history of Berlin is to its Jewish community? We from Industriepalast Hostel want to explore this interesting aspect of the German capital and find out more about the many facets of Jewish life here in our newest series: Jewish Berlin. Last week we provided you with an overview of the fascinating History of Jewish culture in Berlin, this week we introduce you to Jewish Museum Berlin.
Landmark and meeting place
Once you’ve caught a glimpse of world-famous architect Daniel Liebeskind’s building you won’t forget it easily. Strangely edged and branched, the grey zinc and concrete facade runs around the zig-zagged construction in the north of Kreuzberg. Lined with straight furrows and bizarrely shaped windows the building conveys a feeling of fortitude and fascinating uniqueness. Since 2001, when it was inaugurated, Jewish Museum Berlin has become a famous landmark of the capital.
Its outside face is only the beginning though, for once you enter the museum, you’ll dive into a fascinating cultural history. Two millennia of Jewish-German history wait for you to be re-discovered, combined with special exhibition covering interesting topics and Jewish artists. A diverse program of events, pedagogical and political work, as well as the extensive research that is being done here make the museum a centre of contemporary Jewish culture. A place to learn and experience, exchange thoughts and think further.
The permanent historical exhibition has a unique concept and mirrors Liebeskind’s architecture full of nooks and crannies. Three axes – the axis of continuity, of exile, and of Holocaust -, as well as the Garden of Exile and the oppressive Holocaust Tower seek to make the history of Judaism tangible before visitors enter the actual exhibition. The permanent exhibition then tells the history of Germany from early medieval times through the present from the perspective of a Jewish minority. Visitors can get acquainted with the diversity of Jewish culture, the influence of important Jewish personae, and the dark chapters of persecution, anti-semitism, and the Shoah. It is the largest Jewish museum in Europe and therefore almost impossible to discover entirely in only one day. It is always worth the visit though, especially when you’re focusing on one or more specific aspects. Apart from the public tour there are guided themed tours available in numerous languages (incl. sign language). To visit the permanent exhibition using an audio guide is another option.
The long list of interesting events includes readings and film screenings, concerts, conferences, and theme nights, often performed within the charming atmosphere of the glass-covered atrium, designed to resemble a traditional Jewish Sukkah. Often these events are connected to current special exhibitions; for instance a comprehensive exhibition on the mythical figure of the Golem, starting in fall 2016.
The Jewish Museum Berlin is open daily from 10 am through 8 pm, on Mondays even through 10 pm. Admission is 8 € (reduced fare: 3 €), groups and families get special prices. The museum’s website has further information concerning current exhibitions, events, and guided tours. From Industriepalast Hostel it is just a 10-minute subway ride on U1 to Hallesches Tor.
Ready to find out more about Jewish Culture in Berlin? There is so much more to it than you think you know, so better stay tuned for next week’s episode of Jewish Berlin on the Holocaust Memorial.
Enjoy your visit in one of the capital’s most interesting museums,
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.