Jewish Culture Center (JCC)
While the Jewish Culture Center (Juedischer Kulturverein) was founded after German reunification, it has its origins in the mid-eighties in GDR. Young people, whose parents had returned from exile to the GDR to build up a new antifascist Germany, felt the need to meet and to share what being Jewish meant for them. They sought out a cultural, rather than a specifically religious, form of meeting in order to bring together a wider group of Jews and people of Jewish origin. They founded a group "Jews for Jews: We for Ourselves" which met under the roof of East Berlin Jewish Community on a regular basis. There was an active and lively exchange of ideas. Later they also organized cultural events. From time to time Rabbis, scholars and Jewish artists and activists mostly from the United States visited and offered their support.
When the Berlin Wall fell, some of them started the Jewish Cultural Association which is an independent group with a concept similar to Jewish cultural centers in the US where everybody is welcome from orthodox to secular Jewish. After re-unification in 1990, and the rise of a new German national identity, the question of Jewish consciousness was reframed for many Jews with a more distant relationship to their Jewish roots. For many of those living in the former East Berlin, the opportunities for Jewish outreach and learning provided a way to deal with the sometimes difficult challenges of the changing lifestyles.
The Jewish Culture Center is now the established home of programs and special meetings dedicated to furthering Jewish identity, community, and history through cultural events, classes, music, religious education and celebrations, lectures and political discussions.
An increasing number of members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. As a consequence a certain number of events take place in Russian and refer to their special situation. For some time it was possible to publish the monthly "Juedische Korrepondenz" (Jewish correspondence) in German and Russian. From the very beginning the Jewish Culture Center has been at the forefront in welcoming Soviet Jewish immigrants to Germany. Russian language and the Soviet system was a part of the East German educational curriculum, so the language and cultural differences were less pronounced than in the former West.
The JCC is in contact with the Lubavitch Chassidic Movement and thus get their support for the holidays (religious instruction, glatt kosher passover seder ...).
If you are in Berlin during Chanukka, you should not miss their Chanukka Ball.