Germany, Berlin, 2018/09/27
Three of Rabbi Shlomo Afanasev's five children play in the backyard. The orthodox family is part of Kahal Adass Jisroel, an orthodox community situated in Berlin's neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg and supported by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.
For the past 12 years I have been eagerly documenting the Jewish community in Germany, mostly in Berlin, because that’s where I’m based. At first more or less by accident, or rather assignment, but over time I just fell madly in love.
Back then I knew very little of contemporary Jewish life in Germany. Of course I had learned all about its history, World War II and the holocaust – even had had two Jewish classmates in grade school – but that was about it. What real life Judaism was, apart from holocaust commemorations and repeated news of antisemitism, I didn’t know.
The Community is however fairly small, official numbers state that as low now, only about 150.000 Jews live in the country. The end of the Cold War contributed to a significant growth of the Jewish community when Jewish people from the former Soviet Union were allowed to emigrate to Germany. Many of the smaller communities were even re-established then.
Jewish life occurs in a myriad of ways, being Jewish is just as much a question of identity as it is one of religion. This broader question of identity is what really sparked my interest. Mostly perceived through debates of anti-semitism and holocaust commemorations and displayed in the media in a stereotypical way. I explore Jewish everyday life in Germany in all its facets and diversity. I’m a Goy, a non-Jewish person, and I always will be. But at the same time I have become part of the community myself, constantly walking that line and at the same time floating within that diversity of Judaism.
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