We’ve gotten our vacation division of labor down to a science. M spends hours in museums. I spend hours doing anything but spend hours in museums. So far, it’s working outs splendidly for us.
That’s how I found myself wandering around Berlin’s Jewish quarter one evening. East of Museum Island on the other side of the Spree River, the neighborhood is a hodgepodge of hip restaurants and shops, important Jewish sites, small galleries and residential housing.
Today, this area is home to two Jewish synagogues, a couple of Jewish restaurants, the remains of the old Jewish cemetery, and the ever-present stumbling stones that remind us of the people who use to walk these streets.
As I walked down Rosenthaler Strauss, I popped into what Berlin calls Berliner Hinterhöfe” or backyards.” This one in particular – Hause Schwarzenberg – is home to two small museums, one dedicated to Anne Frank and one to Otto Weidt – the owner of a workshop for the blind and deaf who fought to protect his Jewish workers. It is also filled with interesting street art.
Another “backyard” with awesome architecture.
I made my way to the old Jewish cemetery. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the area was crowded with thousands of Jewish graves, but in 1943, it was destroyed by the Gestapo. Today, there are few relics and a gravestone memorializing Moses Mendelssohn (it is not the original).
Finally, I made my way to the New Synagogue. Built in 1865, it was largely destroyed during World War II. After the war, the community rebuilt the synagogue to look like the original. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tour the interior because it was closed for renovation.