BERLIN, May 23 (JTA) — A new exhibit has opened here focusing on 100 years of art in Israel. “The New Hebrews” brings part of the Dead Sea Scrolls out of Israel for the first time, in honor of 40 years of diplomatic relations between Germany and the Jewish state. “Communication on a cultural level is of great importance for understanding between people,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said to the several hundred guests attending the opening ceremony under high security on May 19. “The dialogue of feeling is particularly important if it expresses things that words cannot describe.” The exhibit, housed in Berlin’s Martin Gropius-Bau Museum, includes ancient artifacts and contemporary art, from film and photographs to sculpture, drawings and paintings. It opened to the public May 20 and will remain there until Sept. 5. There are fabulously intricate silver filigree pieces from the Bezalel Workshop in early 20th century Jerusalem; postwar posters urging Jews in Europe to emigrate to Palestine; illustrated Bibles and Haggadahs made by artists who emigrated to Israel from Europe; expressionist prints and paintings and gaudy, in-your-face modern pieces. There are also several films, including one about the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Among other things, the curators — a team from the German museum working with a team from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem — brought a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls out of Israel for the first time. “It is a kind of ‘Mona Lisa’ for us,” James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, said. “We are proud of its first voyage away from Israel.” German Interior Minister Otto Schily, curator Yigal Zalmona of the Israel Museum and curator Doreet LeVitte Harten of the Martin Gropius-Bau also spoke at the opening. Shalom said it is important “to bring children here to see this, to secure the relationship between Israel and Germany for coming generations.” Germany is Israel’s biggest backer in Europe. Supporters of German-Israeli relations are making an extra push in this anniversary year to encourage connections between younger generations in both countries. In fact, Lufthansa Airlines announced that it will subsidize flights to Israel for fans of a popular German rock group, the Sons of Mannheim, which will perform one concert on June 8 at the Tel Aviv Opera. Band leader Michael Herberger said his strong commitment to Israel is based on his religious convictions as a Protestant and he looked forward to helping strengthen ties among young people in both countries. His group’s first album was called “Zion,” the second “Noiz” and the third “Izon.” The second two albums are anagrams of “Zion,” a Hebrew word for Israel. The Israel trip, which will be followed by the performance of an Israeli rock group in Germany next September, is supported by the Israeli Embassy, Lufthansa and the German-Israeli Society in Berlin.
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Toby Axelrod is JTA's correspondent for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A former assistant director of the American Jewish Committee's Berlin office, she has also worked as staff writer and editor at the New York Jewish Week. She has won numerous awards from the New York Press Association and the American Jewish Press Association. She has published books on Holocaust history for teen-agers.