For many people, good food is still a matter of taste.
It is actually a pure means of communication.
Because there are many things that are difficult to formulate between people, remain unspoken or have to remain - things like love, culture, tradition, but also rules and strange secrets - they are often served in a deep plate.
The late night talk “Friday night Jews” is not the first time people eat on German television.
But never before has there been a talk show in which you can talk about the Holocaust and beetroot soup at the same time.
Jewish fate and Jewish dishes - both are difficult to digest.
The show “Friday Night Jews” brings both to the round wooden table from a new perspective, namely from its own, the Jewish one.
The menu consists of a Jewish production team (producers David Hadda and Martin Danisch, executive producer Remigius Roskosch) and a Jewish host, the Moscow-born actor Daniel Donskoy.
He studied acting in London and New York, is known in Germany for crime novels such as “Soko” and “Tatort” and last year was seen in the series “The Crown” in the role of the lover of Princess Diana.
Eating is a means of communication: scene from "Friday Night Jews"
Source: WDR / Christian Pries
The guests are also Jewish: the author Mirna Funk, the actress Susan Sideropoulos and the activist Max Czollek.
Because this show is about Jewish life and Jewish identity in Germany - and the idea of stopping being bungled by German expectations and sensitivities.
Daniel Donskoy, a burgundy tuxedo with an undershirt, moderated with a mixture of Sankt Pauli restaurateur and Michel Friedman.
In each episode he receives one or two guests, cooks for them and chats with them by candlelight in front of a busy street-style backdrop.
Loft atmosphere, old televisions, JEWS in neon script on the wall.
The glasses clink gently, and around, the question follows: "Are the times bad?"
How can you recognize real Jews?
In the second episode comes the key moment when cold borscht is served.
Borschtsch, a soup made mainly of beetroot pieces, garnished with three hard-boiled, halved eggs and dill tips, is one of the pillars of Jewish cuisine.
But does that mean - and that brings us exactly back to the topic - that all Jews must or must have eaten borscht or should even know it in order to be real Jews?
So that they can be easily identified as such?
So that it is easier to recognize real Jews?
For this borscht Max Czollek, poet, Jew and East German, reports on the bizarre nature of a Holocaust memorial event.
There is also Pfeffi, a schnapps that was popular in the GDR and later became famous in the East due to the widespread alcoholism.
Because Judaism in Germany is strongly tinged to the East: a good 90 percent of Jews in Germany or in the Jewish communities come from the former Soviet Union and came to Germany as so-called quota refugees in the 1990s.
“You did not
survive the Holocaust,
” says Max Czollek.
“You won against the Germans.” And so, he says, it would not be the victims Jews, who Germans would like to see mourning, sit at the memorial events, but the liberators of Auschwitz.
He has prepared something for once: Daniel Donskoy is cooking
Source: WDR / Christian Pries
And while the word Auschwitz has not yet subsided, Daniel Donskoy treats himself to a large spoonful of borscht.
And says that his grandfather still has the medals of the Red Army.
In general, the question of integration would never be asked of the Russian Jews, continues Czollek undeterred.
Because their task is to replace the dead Jews.
They lived here as a pure symbol.
Daniel Donskoy directs the conversation to the fact that the recipe for borscht came from his grandmother, on whose kitchen table he was circumcised as a baby.
He still eats from this kitchen table today when he visits her.
Then the two toast with Pfeffi.
“L'Chaim”, they say, on life.
It is a large, important and entertaining identity debate that is conducted in this format, regardless of the prior knowledge and experience of the viewers.
And in a great disrespectful form that was hardly thought possible.
We are in the middle of an "anniversary year" which, from a Jewish point of view, has extremely strange features.
It is called "1700 years of Jewish life in Germany".
That implies the flimsy idea that all Jews who came to Germany suddenly thought that they would love to come to Germany.
And secondly, that Jews actually had a really cool time here, apart from the stupid Shoah.
Neither of which is of course entirely correct.
Calling yourself ahead of you as a professional Jew
The guests Mirna Funk and Susan Sideropoulos made it clear in the first episode that the perception of Jews in Germany always has something to do with separation and external attribution.
You talk about the question of whether it is okay to be described and asked for as an explicitly “Jewish” actress or author.
The answer is: sometimes like this, sometimes like that.
It depends on the context.
And you have to be able to decide for yourself.
Mirna Funk, the author, prefers to describe herself as a “professional Jew” almost in advance.
And then comes the moment when the show itself demonstrates this dilemma of external attribution.
Daniel Donskoy insists on discovering another thing his two female guests have in common: They are both mothers.
“Ever regretted being a mother?” Asks Donskoy.
And in the face of Mirna Funk, who sees herself as an expressly feminist author, there is naked irritation.
Because this question to two artists, who both live and work extremely differently, is of course, despite all the modernity and freedom of movement of thoughts, as if out of time and simply a stupid question.
Donskoy subverts the very generalization that Jews often make.
According to the motto: you are women.
How is that like?
But that's where the beneficial power of food comes into play again.
With a fork, Mirna Funk skewers a decent piece of latkes, also called potato pancakes, potato pancakes or even potato pancakes in Germany, and says conciliatory: "Judaism is a culture of debate for me."
On Friday the first episode “Friday Night Jews” ran on WDR and can also be seen in the broadcaster's media library. This broadcast is probably one of the most intelligent contributions to the celebrations for the anniversary year “1700 years of Jewish life in Germany”. And at the same time someone who properly salty the soup.