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Hebrew letterforms on café signs in Berlin

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Israeli immigration to Berlin has increased significantly over the past decade, giving rise to a nascent Hebrew culture. Consequently, Hebrew letterforms, once seldom found outside the traditional context of synagogues, cemeteries or memorials, are nowadays also found in public spaces and restaurants across the city. While research on Israeli immigration to Germany has greatly increased in recent years, the visual characteristics of this community have, however, yet to be researched. Using two Israeli cafés in Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts as case studies, this article will examine the expression of Israeli cultural identity in the German capital through letterforms. I will argue that the logo designs of both cafés express a connection to Israeli culture in two contrasting ways: on the one hand, a nostalgic connection echoing traditions from the past, and on the other hand, an attempt to maintain a distance from this very culture. Based on interviews with the café owners and a visual analysis of their logos, this article will show how both the café owners strove to express a personal stance in regard to their identity as Israelis through the typefaces and designs used to represent their businesses.

Keywords: Berlin; Hebrew; Israeli; culture; diaspora; immigration; typography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419370538The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Publication date: April 1, 2022

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  • Book 2.0 is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles and reviews about historical, modern and contemporary book creation, design, illustration and production. Since its founding in 2010, Book 2.0 has explored topics that have included children's literature and culture, traditional and modern storytelling, oral literature, poetry publishing and the enormous efforts being made by Indigenous speakers and their supporters to secure and sustain endangered languages.
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