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. Since you’ve already been introduced to the history of Jews in Berlin in and around historic Scheunenviertel in the Jewish Museum, and visited the unique site of remembrance at Holocaust Memorial, we introduced you to the yummy side of Jewish Berlin last week. There’s a reason why Berlin is developing a new, young Jewish tradition at the moment, and it has to do with two of the most fascinating cities there are: the Berlin and Tel Aviv:
Separated by roughly 3,000 kilometers and several climate zones, yet they are often named in the same breath: Berlin and Tel Aviv. Sure, there are many cities with a young, aspiring scene of creative people, but these two have a special relation. Why that is? Find out below:
What do 14 kilometer of mediterranean beach and the shabby chic of Berlin have in common? The answer is: startup companies. Young businesses spring up like mushrooms in both cities like hardly anywhere else in the world. The infrastructure for young designers, inventors, and businessmen is good and it draws creative minds from all around the globe to the trendy boroughs. If you move between the macbooks, horn-rims, and sleek hipster beards of the countless coffee shops you might easily forget whether you’re in Florentin or Neukölln. For many years Berlin used to look to Tel Aviv as a source of inspiration; after all they have one startup for every 400 citizens – top of the world. Increasing living costs and the prospect of a new, inspiring environment have seen more and more young Tel Avivniks move to Berlin recently. Already you will meet numerous Israeli expats in the trendy boroughs of the German capital, and there’s a lot of exchange between the startup scene on the shores of the Med sea and the Spree river.
startups, coffee shops, and young, creative minds? Wait a second, that sounds just like… yes, indeed, the generation that proclaims to form the most meaningless movement of all times: Hipsterism. If you were tempted to create a list of the world’s most hipster places – and you shouldn’t, for there are too many on the internet already – Berlin and Tel Aviv were both serious contenders for the top positions. But although hipster-bashing is always fun, you have to admit that vintage stores, craft beer and burgers, good cocktail bars, artisanal coffee shops on every corner, and a choice of vegan restaurants that would make Ellen DeGeneres jealous are actually not that bad a thing. Tel Aviv is without doubt the most trendy city in the Middle East, and at this point no one seriously questions that Berlin is the hipster capital of Europe. Thus it’s no surprise that there is a lot of exchange between both towns. Artists and musicians commute regularly between both countries, and fashion designers from the thriving market of Tel Aviv have long discovered Berlin as the new place to be. Check out Shani Bar’s store in Mitte, or the strange world of Itamar Zechoval, the Dandy of the Grotesque.
Queer and Proud
Another thing that both places have in common is their open-mindedness towards gay, lesbian, trans-, and intergender people. The short version reads: Be who you are and love who you love, and do it the way you enjoy most – you are welcome here. Tel Aviv Pride is one of the biggest events of its kind every year and has more than 200,000 people party on the beaches-turned-ocean of rainbow flags. And Berlin? Has been Europe’s LGBTIQ Mecca for a long time. And is home to two of the most famous pride events: Lesbisch-Schwules Straßenfest and Berlin’s Christopher Street Day, which bring together hundreds of thousands of people each year. Looks like Berlin and Tel Aviv get along well under the rainbow, too.
So by the end of the day, what remains of the axis Berlin – Tel Aviv? Well, the night, of course. Those who know both towns will confirm that the nightlife is simply incredible. This is also due to the rather liberal culture policies in both cities: Curfews are a thing unheard of both here and there, so it’s up to you when to call it a night – or if at all. Parties that don’t stop for days in a row, and the electronic music scene that goes along with it, that’s what both cities share. If Tel Aviv was Berlin’s role model in the matter of startup businesses, it’s the other way round with nightclubs. More and more Tel Aviv clubs have taken on Berlin style vinyl-based handmade house and techno. The electronic underground is thriving on both sides of the Med and there is a lot of exchange – if you’re a producer and you’re being invited to deejay in Tel Aviv there’s a good chance you’ve been playing some of Berlin’s famous techno clubs before. And whether you prefer to spend your after hours on the beach (let’s call it a riverwalk in the case of Berlin) or in the trendy bars that are already open again, is up to your taste.
The relationship between Israel and Germany is not only for history classes anymore, Jewish Berlin is young, creative, and hip. What Tel Aviv and Berlin share are the general open-mindedness, a thriving art scene, and a very liberal lifestyle – not to mention the mouthwatering falafels you can get at every corner. In any case you should make sure to put both cities onto your bucket list. Or even better: Reserve your bed at Industriepalast Hostel Berlin today and explore the city on your own, before heading on to find out more about Tel Aviv – there are plenty of direct flights every day.
We look forward to seeing you here,
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.