If you’re looking for an in-depth tour of Jewish Berlin, Yoav and Natalie Sapir’s Jewish Heritage Tours are informative and captivating. What’s more, they shed a whole new perspective on both the history of Jews in Berlin and the modern revival of Jewish life.
Yoav was born in Haifa, Israel to a father Holocaust survivor and a mother whose family escaped Poland before the war. The Holocaust was a real presence in his home as a child and as he grew, history became his passion. He came to Berlin in 2006 to complete his studies in German-Jewish history, and since then has been giving tours, translating academic literature, and working as a journalist for Israeli and German newspapers and magazines.
Natalie was born in West-Germany and came to Berlin in 2009 to study history and political science. In Berlin, she met Yoav and discovered Judaism and she also continued on to study Jewish studies and philosophy. She believes that Berlin is “the most beautiful city in Germany and maybe even in the whole world,” and brings her passion into her guiding.
The Berlin Jewish Heritage Tour is the Sapir’s most popular tour. It delves into the history of Jews in Berlin, addressing the question, Who were the Jews of Berlin that made this community so successful before the Holocaust? The Sapirs relay stories of rescue and survival during the Holocaust while standing at the actual spots they occurred. Yoav and Natalie also discuss the revival of Jewish life in Berlin and contemporary Jewish life.
The tour takes place in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter and includes stops at the following locations, among others:
- The Central Council of Jews in Germany
- Two neighboring rabbinical seminaries — reform and orthodox — that made Berlin important in religious terms
- The “hackesche” courtyards, where the founder of Reform Judaism lived
- Jewish elementary schools and the contemporary Jewish high school
- Old and new synagogues
- The oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin’s historical center, where Moses Mendelssohn is buried
- Memorials including the Stumbling Stones, the Deserted Room, the Missing House, and the Block of Women
In addition to the popular Jewish Heritage Tour, the Sapirs offer the following tours:
- Advanced Jewish Berlin Tour, during which Yoav and Natalie explore off-the-beaten-track locations in West Berlin.
- Cold War Tour, a unique tour that takes tourists to “odd locations” and discusses the role of Germany in the cold war, specifically addressing the division of Berlin.