Last night I attended the official presentation of the Writing Girls project at the Insel Gallerie, not far away from what it used to be one of the centres of Jewish life in Berlin. I came home really pleased to have experienced an encounter with a group of people who really care and who understand what it means to deal with the Jewish heritage of the city, within a Jewish perspective.
But what does it mean to have a “Jewish perspective”? Why here everything made so much sense and in the Themenjares of Berlin 2013 Zerstörte Vielfalt (Destroyed Diversity) all feels so artificial and dull? Why in the context of AVIVA magazine, with FAR less budget, all the participants seemed to have got it right and were able to transmit an intense emotional connection between the women they wrote about, and their own personal story?
And I think that there are several crucial points that make such a significant difference. When we talk about a Jewish perspective, the first think we need to understand is that is not a straight forward thing to do, because it goes in layers, that not necessary fit one of top of the other. Imagine a cabbage where all the leaves have a different colours, and the cut it in the middle and see how this multicolour shape looks like.
That is what I mean with a Jewish perspective, many opinions, points of view, diversity, in-fighting, joy, talking, tears, love, lots of laughing -specially about our own bad luck- and food on the table. A Jewish perspective means to start a little bit late, to be a little bit noisy, that the food is more important that the alcohol and that health problems are going to be sooner or later part of the conversation. That doesn’t mean we are superficial, but improvisation is part of the style, because it means we are human and we are alive.
In the writing girls project each participant engaged with somebody from the past into the present, and then opened some questions into the future. We all dealt with the question of identity. Do other people have such a big issue regarding identity as we have? Maybe not, but good for them, because is not an easy stuff to carry on your shoulders. We are made of migrations and a long history that is difficult to get rid of.
What about not doing Pesach any longer…and then comes the guilt… other of our best friends… What do you mean with no more Pesach? Over 3,000 years of tradition for you to just get rid of it with no regret? Not mentioning the issue of all those Jews that have lost their lives over the last thousands of years….
And we change topics in the conversation very fast, and the Jewish artists are not Jewish mainstream, neither the researchers, scholars and scientists. So why to remember the intellectual Jews so much? Why to claim them as Jews in the first place? Isn’t it a very narrow and unfair point of view of history? Ok, I admit it, there is no way to make the jews happy, we will always complain and speak out, maybe that is the reason of why we have not been so popular.
There is always controversy when the Jewish perspective comes to place, and it is sad that all the great current diversity of Berlin, which is certainly not only Jewish, is not being understand by the politicians and the mainstream part of society. The destroyed diversity has rebuild itself as a collage, and we are here to remember, to honour and to get together creating new life, hopes and dreams, by dancing, eating, chating, writing and so much more.