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Judentum und Israel
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Iris Noah

[Text in German]

Jüdische Buchhandlung Morascha - Zürich - Bücher zum Judentum, Ritualia...
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The Jewish neighbourhood of a town is mostly the part where Jews were allowed to set up their lives. It is the quarter where the important institutions of Jewish religious life started such as the mikva, study house (Beth haMidrash), synagogue... In Berlin, for example, Jews were mentioned the first time in 1295. They were expelled several times. Nowadays Jewish community goes back to 1671 when some families came from Vienna. The first institutions were on the edge of the medieval town (Rosenstrasse).

Today it is the neighborhood around Oranienburger Strasse and the New Synagogue which is called the „Jewish Neighbourhood". It attracts many visitors who want to see Jewish sites such as the first cemetery, the former home for old aged citizens, the Jewish highschool, the former orphanage, the community center of Addas Jisroel (orthodox community). Every week 10 open tours about „Jewish Berlin" are listed in different newspapers. The participants - most are non Jews - come to see the past and present „Jewish neighborhood". Many visitors are amazed when they are told that the population was mixed ant that the percentage of the Jewish population in the center of Berlin (Berlin-Mitte) was about 10 % in 1933. Most of these tours only cover the Jewish past except when they stay in front of the Jewish highschool. And it is mentioned that today Berlin`s Jewish population is about 12.000.

During the last nine years three Jewish restaurants were opened nearby but the number of restaurants which pretend to be „Jewish" is higher such as the „Mendelssohn" where roast pork is served. What is the need behind this search covering „all things Jewish"?

Where are the places and spaces of Jewish life? Are they public, half-public or private? How do all the security issues affect Jewish life?

„Jewish neighborhood" is not only constituted by concrete places and sites in the topography of a city, it is also a cultural phenomena such as Jewish restaurants, theaters, culture, music... In Berlin most things labelled „Jewish" (Klezmer, theater, restaurants, guides tours) are performed by non Jews for a non Jewish audience. Diana Pinto, who lives in Paris and whose field is social science, quotes in her essay „Towards a New European Jewish Identity":

„The third and most difficult challenge is the Jewish Space: how should Jews approach and intervene in Europe's growing Jewish spaces, increasingly initiated, populated and even administered by non-Jews?"

What and where are the places in your city which you define and perceive as Jewish ones in past and present times (maybe a Jewish youth center, community center, youth camps)? What constitutes a Jewish place or space? What is the significance of these places for you? How do you perceive the places which are „Jewish".

Iris Noah, Berlin / haGalil onLine 25-10-2000

JTC - Jewish Culture Tours



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