Jewish life in Berlin today

19 12 2007

According to official German websites, the Jewish population in Germany has tripled in the past decade, especially thanks to a large wave of immigration from past Soviet countries, but is still only one fifth of what it used to be before the Second World War. The Jewish community (at least the registered one) in Berlin is the largest in Germany, more than 12,000 people.
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Neue Synagogue in Oranienburger Strasse

17 12 2007

The synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse 28-30 was opened in 1866, then the largest synagogue in Germany, with 3,200 seats. Otto von Bismarck was present at its inauguration. It is located in what was back then a large Jewish district, and now is a very popular spot, crowded with pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Neue Synagogue enterance

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Jewish Museum Berlin

15 12 2007

The Jewish Museum in Berlin is a very impressive museum. The building itself, designed by the famous American architect Daniel Libeskind, is something worth seeing. The permanent exhibition is interesting, some parts of it very impressive, even overwhelming. And as if that’s not enough, they also present excellent special (changing) exhibitions.

From the permanent exhibition

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Some more Holocaust related memorials

5 12 2007

The Missing House: A work by Christian Boltanski, from 1990, located on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, across the street from the Jewish School, not very far from the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse. The missing building was destroyed in WW2. Some of its former residents were Jews. Boltanski constructed there “a memorial space dedicated to absence”. The signs on the walls indicate the names, dates of birth and death and profession of the former residents.

The Missing House.

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"Places of Remembrance" in the Bavarian Quarter

3 12 2007

The memorial “Places of Remembrance”, created by the artist Renata Stih and the art historian Frieder Schnock, consists of 80 street signs, presenting anti-Jewish laws and regulations under Nazi rule. One side of each such sign shows a picture, the other a piece of anti-Jewish legislation.

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KaDeWe, a Temple of Abundance

7 11 2007

This famous and humongous department store, Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe in short), is a major attraction, almost a legend, especially its sixth floor, the food department, which is a temple for the “abundance society” of late capitalism in the Western world.

Variety of Coffee and Tea Sweets to go with the coffee…

Fancy some soup? Or maybe a piece of meat?

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News: The largest synagogue in Germany reopens in Berlin

4 09 2007

Germany’s largest synagogue (Jewish prayer house), Rykestrasse Synagogue, reopened last Friday in the Prenzlauer Berg district in Berlin. The synagogue underwent a few years of renovation, following decades of neglect.

The event was hailed as a symbol of the revitalization of Jewish life in Germany, and even referred to as “a miracle” by Rabbi Chaim Roswaski, a native of Belarus who came to Berlin in 2000 as part of an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, that has made Germany one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world (and were they smart…).
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The Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

2 09 2007

This monster of a memorial, which was unveiled in May 2005, is located in a very central place, near the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate. It is based on a design by Peter Eisenman, an American architect. The “Field of Stelea” is made of 2,711 concrete blocks of different heights, structured in a grid pattern. It can be entered anywhere, and the blocks are supposed to form different wave-like patterns as you move through it. I didn’t really notice that. Click on the photo to enlarge.

The Memorial after rain.

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