Of late, it’s been depressing to be a Conservative Jew. News of demographic and organizational challenges have fed a frenzy of articles delighting in our imminent demise.
I was tutoring a student. We were reading about Colonial America. Every facet of life in that distant era seemed so bizarre to her 21st century sensibilities. She winced when we read that roasted squirrel was considered a tasty treat. She was visibly disturbed to learn that children got whipped for whispering in church.
It’s 4 a.m. at the famous Kater Holzig club and hundreds of beautiful young people are going crazy on the dance floor to the sound of heavy electronic beats.
Fred Heim remembers walking on cloud nine the day he was sworn in to the United States Navy, a cold Chicago day in December 1944. “Joining the Navy was the most important thing in my life,” Heim, 86, told the Journal. “The day that I was sworn in, I will never forget it.”
Seventy-five years later, the very word Kristallnacht still casts a long shadow — on Europe and on the Jewish people. The countrywide pogrom orchestrated in 1938 by the German High Command marked the Nazi regime’s transition from the quasi-legal, anti-Jewish discrimination of the Nuremberg Laws to the coming of the Final Solution.
Two years ago, I was among a group of 24 young American Jews visiting a Protestant Church in Berlin to commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht. On that night, November 9, 1938, Nazi gangs destroyed thousands of synagogues and other Jewish-owned buildings across Germany, murdered dozens and sent hundreds more to concentration camps.
Rochus Misch, the last surviving witness of Adolf Hitler's final days in the Berlin bunker who always referred to the Nazi dictator as "the Boss," has died in his home at the age of 96, his book agent said on Friday.
First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin amid tight security
Iran is a mainstay in international wrestling. The United States has a long and proud wrestling history, too.
From the time he was 4, Peter Daniels — then Peter Berlowitz — spent his days mostly staring out the window of a two-room flat in Berlin. It was 1940, and Jews were forbidden from hiring domestic help under the Nuremberg Laws.
What does it mean to reduce the contemporary Jewish experience to a series of quotes, objects, stereotypes and to conclude an exhibit by placing a live human in a glass box to answer the questions of museum-goers (regardless of merit or cultural sensitivity)?
French documentary filmmaker and producer Claude Lanzmann will be honored at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, where he spoke about filming his famous "Shoah" documentary.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a dressing down from Angela Merkel on Wednesday over his plans to build more Israeli settlements, a policy that has incensed Europe and left even Germany, one of Israel's strongest allies, questioning his commitment to peace.
A Jewish woman in Berlin with family in hard-hit Staten Island, N.Y., started a clothing drive for those affected by superstorm Sandy.
Greta Berlin, the co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement —who has come under fire for tweeting that Zionists created and ran the Nazi concentration camps — has had her upcoming book talks canceled by at least two California venues.
Jews and Muslims in Berlin demonstrated for the right to carry out ritual circumcisions, a right that has been endangered in Germany.
A second anti-Semitic attack in Berlin within a week has prompted the launch of a state police investigation.
A cantata is a musical composition typically composed of solos, duets, and other forms for voice, sung with instrumental accompaniment. Thus framed, the title of Jeffrey Lewis's latest novel, "Berlin Cantata" (Haus, $15, ISBN 978-1-907822-43-8), aligns nicely with the book’s structure, since nearly every chapter is presented as a monologue voiced by one of 13 characters.
A German court's ban on circumcising baby boys has provoked a rare show of unity between Jews, Muslims and Christians who see it as a threat to religious freedom, while doctors warn it could increase health risks by forcing the practice underground.
Jewish religious leaders will hold an international meeting in Berlin on Tuesday to discuss how to respond to a German court ruling against performing circumcision on baby boys, which also sparked protests from Muslims and Christians in Germany.
Once the infamous Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the sweeping reconstruction that began in West Berlin at the war's end,was repeated and even accelerated in what had been the Communist controlled East Berlin. Spectacular shopping complexes, elegant new hotels and office towers dominate the now united city.
The family of a deceased Holocaust survivor must return to a German museum a 3,200-year-old artifact that he had brought with him to the United States, a New York state appellate court has ruled.
As a new center for Jewish studies was dedicated in Berlin, JTA has learned that a new center for training Conservative rabbis and cantors will open in Germany in 2013.
I’m a normal Jew. When I dream, I dream of Israel. When I have nightmares, I have nightmares of Germany.
A one-ton steel key symbolizing the Palestinian "right of return" is to be shipped from a West Bank refugee camp to Berlin as part of a citywide art festival.
Two Israeli films that deal with the conflict with the Palestinians in much different ways were recognized at the 62nd annual Berlin International Film Festival.
A Berlin radio station has fired a controversial disc jockey accused of anti-Semitism.
Pope Benedict XVI met with leaders of Germany's Jewish community while on a visit to his homeland.
About a dozen years ago, actor Mike Burstyn auditioned in New York for the role of Al Jolson in the national touring company of the musical “Jolson.” While waiting for a decision, he flew home to Los Angeles and on landing at LAX decided to stop by the nearby Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary and visit the grave of the legendary jazz singer.
Erik Larson attracted a loyal and appreciative readership — and that includes me — with his potent blend of social history and serial murder in the best-selling “The Devil in the White City,” a work of meticulous research that reads like a thriller. Now he puts the same skills to work in “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” (Crown: $26), an account of the early years of Nazi Germany as experienced by William E. Dodd, who served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 1933 to 1937.
Berlin's annual anti-Israel Islamist march, the Al Quds Day demonstration, drew pro-Israel counter-protesters to the streets of former West Berlin.
After vandals stuck Europe's largest Jewish cemetery in Berlin, Jewish leaders are asking area metal dealers to check for wrought-iron objects that might have been stolen from the cemetery.
For the first time since World War II, World ORT has gathered its leadership at the site of its former world headquarters in Berlin.
Berlin Jews joined hundreds of demonstrators to protest a meeting marking the merger of two neo-Nazi parties. Police estimated that fewer than 80 right-wing extremists showed up to the Jan. 15 meeting in which the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Germany and the German People’s Union (DVU) formally announced their merger. Meanwhile, nearly 100 times that number demonstrated on the streets outside the public school where the party meeting was held, in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg.
Prince Harry of Great Britain visited the Holocaust memorial and museum while in Berlin for a children's charity benefit.
Following a violent attack on dancers at a Jewish festival, Jewish leaders say they are worried about a possible upsurge in anti-Semitism among Muslim youth.
Several hundred Jewish revelers gathered in Berlin for what was billed as the city's first-ever Jewish parade.
Berlin is "meshugge" - a bit crazy - in the eyes of DJ Aviv Netter, an Israeli who hosts a monthly disco night titled Meshugge in the German capital.
Women dance to his music under flags bearing the Star of David and menorahs. "I'm kosher, kiss me," read their t-shirts.
A man and two women were brutally attacked in Berlin allegedly after the assailants demanded to know whether they were Jewish.
According to a statement from the Jewish community of Berlin, a man of "Mediterranean" appearance on Friday night demanded to know if the three were Jewish. After they said they were, the man "obviously went to get some friends," who then beat the three, all in their mid-20s, in an underground train and on the platform in the Wilmersdorf section of Berlin.
Police are investigating the incident as an anti-Semitic and racist attack, as it allegedly began with the attackers cursing the victims. The youths then beat and kicked the two women and one attacker smashed a bottle over the man's head.
When American Rabbi Joshua Spinner moved to Berlin's trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood a decade ago, there were no other Jews to be seen.
Now when the sun sets on a Friday night, dozens of Jewish men clad in traditional Shabbat garb with big black hats and dark long coats walk down the streets past hip coffee shops, chic boutiques and tiny art galleries to attend services at Rykestrasse synagogue.
Winger, an American who has lived in Berlin for the last five years, grew up in Cambridge, Mass., along with long periods in Kenya and Mexico, as well as New York City. The daughter of Harvard anthropologists, she picked up their skills of observation, which she has fine-tuned in her work as a professional photographer and in this beautifully written fictional debut.
Shortly after famed photographer Roman Vishniac died in 1990, his daughter Mara checked through his New York apartment. In the bottom drawer of a file cabinet she found a bundle of folders and envelopes labeled "Berlin."Some 40 of the Berlin photos, first curated by Aubrey Pomerance at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, are now on exhibit through Dec. 14 at UCLA Hillel's Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts.
With the fastest-growing Jewish community in Europe, Germany is both a somewhat comfortable haven for recently arrived Jews from the former Soviet Union, and a rather settled home for those Jews (mostly former displaced persons) who ended up there shortly after the war.
One speaker characterized the Berlin Jewish community as "a piece of the mosaic that makes up our history" and emphasized the importance to the city of today's Jewish community, which numbers approximately 30,000.
Hermann Goering, Hitler's right-hand man and chief architect of the German war effort, testifies at his trial. He was found guilty of war crimes but avoided execution by swallowing potassium cyanide. Photos courtesy of Special Collections Department, Harvard Law School Library
This article was adapted from a speech Ernest W. Michel gave at the German Justice Ministry in Berlin on Nov. 21, 2005.
The Nuremberg Trials, which opened with the reading of charges against 24 defendants in Berlin on Oct. 18, 1945, and reconvened in Nuremberg on Nov. 20, confronted Germans with the reality of what had been done in their name. It was the beginning of a process of reckoning and repentance that continues to this day.
Each year our congregation travels to a different corner of the Jewish world, and last Tisha B'Av, the day commemorating persecutions and destructions that have befallen the Jewish people, we found ourselves in Berlin.
The journeys of 11 of the brightest names who left the Old for the New World are chronicled and visualized in the Skirball Cultural Center exhibit, "Driven Into Paradise."
Just after delegates from 55 nations convened at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Conference on anti-Semitism in Berlin on April 28 and 29 is an appropriate time to take stock of Europe's progress in addressing the re-emergence of anti-Semitism as a potent threat.
In August 1942, the Gestapo arrested Walter and Elisabeth Blumenthal, an elderly Jewish couple in Berlin. As they were driven away on a truck, a neighbor noticed Walter tossing something from the vehicle. The neighbor later retrieved the object: a brown leather wallet, elaborately embossed in gold with the initials WB.
A bombed-out building transformed into a discothèque; the central section of an apartment building that is bizarrely absent -- these are just some of the visual images that preserve the memory of Berlin's complex and turbulent past.
The globalization of trade and communications may soon be joined by a new globalization of anti-Semitism, according to a German scholar who knows the subject well.
More than 300,000 visitors have thronged the Jewish Museum in Berlin since it opened to the public in February 1999, and more are coming at a clip of 20,000 each month.
When visiting Berlin you can't miss the golden dome of the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse. It towers over the city skyline and stands as a reminder of the rich history of Berlin Jewry. Crowned with the Star of David, the dome also reminds us of persecution and near destruction.
During the night of November 9, 1938-the so-called "Kristallnacht"--when synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany were destroyed-- Nazi forces also tried to set fire to Berlin's New Synagogue.
We Jews in America, on our side, have gathered video testimonies from survivors, created curricula for teaching the Holocaust in schools and been busy erecting (educational) museums and monuments. Now the Germans will add still another Jewish memorial, this one to be built close to Berlin's center; one more gesture of good will.
Michael Cullen wants people to search their attics and basements for documents, photos, paintings, you name it -- photocopies are acceptable. If something is valuable, like a painting, the museum will consider purchasing it.