By Amit Epstein | 25/03/2010
This week a small group of German-Jews, one German and an Israeli (yours, truly) joined together to found a Jewish salon in Berlin. The Jewish Salons is a social net with branches in several cities as Amsterdam and Vienna, which was launched in Tel-Aviv. For me, the interest in it started as soon as I came across their website and read their vision compressed into one paragraph:
"Our vision is to create an international non-institutional network that produces relevant Jewish cultural events for young Jews and their social circles. In communities where these events expose a need for a permanent venue of alternative Jewish cultural content, a permanent Salon venue will gradually be established. Salon events will reflect the young generation's mode of interest in its Jewish identity at the early 21st century and will also attract young Jews who are today on the fringe of Jewish communal life or are not affiliated at all. Once permanent Salon venues are established, they will include a café-bar, dynamic exhibition and performance space, and an Audio-Visual library that will resonate with the multiple aspects of the modern Jewish experience".
By the time I was calling a friend, suggesting we'll look up the "how to start a Jewish Salon" manual published, how very convenient, next to that on-line vision, she was already aware of it and was talking to someone else about it. We've joint forces with several individuals who came to our minds (manual say you should be "following three guiding principles: Initiative will be led in each community by local young members, Initiative is an alternative and therefore is to remain non-institutional, Salon activities will be inclusive and welcome both Jews and non-Jews" - easy…) and within a few weeks we knew we are seriously involved in something we wanted someone to do for us, but never happened. So as it happens to be, seems like we'll make it happen, as we think we are not alone on this…we are all working and involved in creative and academic fields in Berlin, and internationally. We are well-connected within the infrastructures of culture and arts, from which a forum like that would benefit. Our vision was concentrating on a social network, with emphasis on intellectual and visual aspects of Judaism today. The main issue is very clear and simple – we do not belong to the Jewish community in its conventional form or to its institutional structure.
We are, however, young Jewish people who are well integrated into our surroundings, and wish to keep this dual existence while asking questions regarding that balance. Berlin used to be the center of Jewish culture, and Jews played important roles from politics to industry, from architecture to fashion, not to mention literature, music, visual & performing arts. Today, Berlin is a vibrant multicultural place, with a growing Jewish population, and therefore has a great potential for the idea of a local Salon, which sets the mind not on separation but on integration through the unique input of our heritage and spirit. To me, that seems to be the best contribution to the society in live in – adding my voice, helping built up and improve the point of view on where I come from, and by that raising interest in the themes I feel important.