November 25, 2005

Berlin’s Jewish festival revives “golden ’20s”

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's "golden '20s," a decade of
libertinage, artistic innovation and political ferment, is the
focus of this year's Berlin Jewish festival which opens on

A Yiddish Tango show, silent film screenings, a recital of
Balkan music and a production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt
Weill's "Mahagonny-Songspiel" are among festival events
celebrating both the "golden '20s" and contemporary Jewish

"Berlin was the biggest, most important and most erotic
magnet during the '20s," said Dominique Horwitz, artistic
director of this year's festival and one of Germany's
best-known actors.

"Everyone came here, not to New York, London or Paris," he
said, adding that he believed Berlin had regained its cultural
status and was once more an "exciting metropolis to which
everyone is attracted."

Germany's Jewish population of around half a million was
decimated before and during World War Two when the Nazis
murdered some six million European Jews in the Holocaust.

Jewish culture flourished in the capital before the Nazis
took power in 1933. Berlin was among the world's 10 biggest
Jewish centres and many of Germany's top scientists, including
Albert Einstein, were Berlin Jews.

Germany now has the world's fastest growing Jewish
community. It has more than doubled in a decade to about
100,000, helped by a government programme to encourage
immigration from the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe.

"Jewish life and culture is once again blossoming in our
city," said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit. "Berlin is proud of
this, and will do everything to encourage this positive

On Sunday, the first Chrismukka Market, combining Christmas
and the Jewish festival of Hanukka, will also open in Berlin,
though is not part of the festival.