It seems quite ironic: Israeli Jews are flocking to the one European city you’d least expect: Berlin, once the capital of the Nazi regime that displaced and murdered millions of European Jews. Many Holocaust survivors settled in Israel and most of them vowed never to set foot in Germany again. Their grandchildren, however, are a different story. Today about 3,000 Israelis, mostly young artists, have moved to Berlin to find creative expression in Europe’s hottest cultural capital. Reporter Daniel Estrin profiles one Israeli musician whose career is blossoming in Berlin. (photo of Ofri Brin: Lisa Zappe) Download MP3
Read the Transcript
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.
MARCO WERMAN: You might call it an ironic historical twist. Israeli Jews are flocking to Berlin, the former capital of the Nazi regime that displaced and murdered much of Europe’s Jews. Thousands of Holocaust survivors and refugees settled in Israel and many of them vowed never to set foot in Germany again. Their grandchildren, however, are a different story. Today about 3,000 Israelis, mostly young artists, have moved to Berlin to find creative expression in Europe’s hottest cultural capital. Reporter Daniel Estrin profiles one Israeli musician whose career is blossoming in Berlin.
DANIEL ESTRIN: This is Ofri Brin singing “Time for a Decision” from her second album. It’s hard to define the genre of her music.
OFRI BRIN: It’s not jazz what we do. My voice is a bit jazzy but I can’t say that it’s jazz. We call it avant-garde pop. It’s as if you would have taken oldies and put it together with experimental music and pop together.
ESTRIN: In Berlin, there’s a devoted audience for every kind of experimental music out there and Brin and her band Ofrin perform for packed audiences at some of the city’s hottest venues. This is what Berlin must have been like in the 1920s. In the years between the two World Wars, Berlin was teeming with new artistic expression. Jazz music, the avant-garde, Berlin was undergoing a cultural renaissance. And today, Berlin’s live music scene is also bursting with new artists. Ofri Brin is one of them.
BRIN: I had a completely different view about Berlin before I came here. I couldn’t imagine that it’s so alive. I was sure that it’s pretty grey and that the people are pretty grey.
ESTRIN: Brin grew up in a small community in the north of Israel. She says that growing up in Israel, all she learned about Germany was the Nazi era.
BRIN: Because of television, because of the war, because of books, because of what they teach you in school. I mean they present it in this way because of the personal history of our people, I guess. For us, Berlin was more about the war and the Third Reich than about the golden twenties, you know.
ESTRIN: Brin sang popular Israeli tunes in the army’s band for her military service. And then she began to write her own music with one of her bandmates, Oded K.dar. After their army service, K.dar moved to Berlin and about five and a half years ago, Brin followed him there. Joining up with German musicians, they formed the band Ofrin.
BRIN: I fell in love with the city, he fell in love with the city, and we just stayed. Sometimes you feel like you’ve really been swept off your feet by it. But you don’t know, did you make things happen or it’s just the way life is, is it stronger than you? But you have moments like this almost every day. You’re thinking about stuff like that.
ESTRIN: In the recording studio, the band sticks ping pong balls inside the piano and attaches bananas to the drums. It’s a never-ending quest for new sounds. And there’s an appetite and a tolerance for that kind of musical experimentation in Germany. Ofrin made it to number 54 on a German radio lineup of top 200 hits. And Brin says she’s been warmly received by both 70-year-olds at intimate jazz clubs, and by younger German crowds at larger venues. For The World, I’m Daniel Estrin, Berlin.
WERMAN: From the Nan and Bill Harris studios in Boston, I’m Marco Werman. Thank you for listening.
Copyright ©2009 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.