Zayds Goes To Germany


Visitors to a new Jewish museum, which opens Thursday in the heart of Munich, will be able to learn on four exhibition floors about Jewish life and culture in Germany’s Bavaria region.

And at the entrance to the building they will learn a bit about a Jewish family from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Ten original cartoons from “Everything’s Relative,” a decade-old comic strip that appears in this newspaper and a handful of other Jewish papers in the U.S., will be posted as silk screens on the walls at the front door.

The museum management wants the comics, which feature an intergenerational cast of characters, “to introduce visitors to the subject of Jews in Munich,” says Jordan Gorfinkel, the New York artist who has drawn Batman, produced several music CDs and now declares himself “in the entertainment business.”

In the Munich-based strips — they will be presented in German and English at the museum, and will start running in The Jewish Week in two weeks — Zayds, the patriarch of Gorfinkel’s fictional family that is loosely based on his own, will return to Germany with a younger member of the mishpocha. The comic will teach about contemporary Jewish life in Germany through their eyes.

Gorfinkel, a native of Chicago, says he learned about today’s German Jewry during his first visit there two years ago, as a guest of the museum. Staying with a friend, he shopped and ate and davened with German Jews, most of whom have come in recent years from the former Soviet Union.

“I began to open my eyes to the reality of what Germany is today,” he says — it is the country with Europe’s fastest-growing Jewish community. “There is a renaissance of Jewish life in Germany.”

All this will show up in his comics, Gorfinkel says. “I spent a year trying to figure out what I’m saying. I found a way to deal with the facts in a way that was honest … not over-sentimental.”

After the opening of the museum, part of a complex that includes a recently opened synagogue and Jewish community center, Gorfinkel’s new comics will become a traveling exhibit in this country and overseas.

He will attend the museum’s opening, accompanied by his wife, Amy, their 8-month-old son, Ori, and his father-in-law, Nathan Burzinski.

Burzinki, who lives in Cleveland, is an Auschwitz survivor who was in a DP camp near Munich after World War II.

This week will be Burzinski’s first time back in Germany since 1945 — just like Zayds.

Next week, Gorfinkel says, “fact and faction will merge.”