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Because sex is a good way to connect

'Sex: Jewish Positions' displays everything from Talmudic texts to sex toys at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
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Soft sculpture made of breasts and eyes hanging outside a building

“Tumtum” by Gil Yefman in the Jewish Museum Berlin (Jens Ziehe, Jewish Museum Berlin)

Published: 4 July 2024

Last updated: 4 July 2024

"It's a topic that intrigues the audience, and we thought it was a good way to make Judaism accessible to non-Jews," says Miriam Goldmann, curator of Sex: Jewish Positions, a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The idea for the exhibition and the preparations for it began two years ago before the current political crisis. Goldmann hopes it will prove a connection point for non-Jewish audiences with Jewish stories.

"It's a universal theme that people can identify with and see themselves through. It's an exhibition that builds a bridge between cultures and religions."

'Sex: Jewish Positions' in the Berlin Jewish Museum (Jens Ziehe, Jewish Museum Berlin).
'Sex: Jewish Positions' in the Berlin Jewish Museum (Jens Ziehe, Jewish Museum Berlin).

The exhibition includes Talmudic texts, an orgasm scene taken from a Czech movie, sex toys and a poem by I. L. Peretz about a Yeshiva student torn between his lust for women and his desire to study Torah.

"It is clear that, in general, Christianity has much greater suppression of sexuality and sexual pleasure. Many people are surprised that it exists in Judaism, but on the other hand, people also do not expect Judaism to be so liberal on this issue. Most of the people who come here have no knowledge, and we have to provide them the most basic information.

"In Judaism, there are defined times and spaces for sex. There are laws of Niddah, which are related to cycles of time. On the one hand, the woman is reduced to someone who is only supposed to give birth and raise children, and on the other hand, she is the mainstay of the family, and she is highly praised. There are parts in Judaism where the woman is considered as equal (to men) and there are parts where there is no equality among them."

A gay Jewish wedding <em>(Jewish Museum Berlin)</em>.
A gay Jewish wedding (Jewish Museum Berlin).

Goldmann points out that the exhibition also features stories about people who wanted to try a different kind of sexuality, but still wished to maintain their religious faith and practices. "People are always looking for new ways to observe their religious belief, to reconcile their sexual and religious identities."


The Jewish Museum Berlin presents: a journey to Jewish sex (Ynet)


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