Yoav about himself:
I was born in 1979 in Haifa, Israel, the country in which I spent my first two and a half decades. My father, born in 1943, was a Holocaust survivor from northern Bessarabia, a region in the south of the Pale of Settlement in Eastern Europe. My mother was born in Israel after her family had escaped Poland. The Holocaust was very present in our home, and thus also Germany and our very own "German question". My father's curiosity about the people that caused so much pain to him and his family led him to Germany, which he visited many times, both West and East. My first stuffed animal was actually a German monkey he brought from one of his journeys.
Since childhood, my passion has been history. Because of my mother I had to start my university studies at the faculty for law, but having turned my back on that (sorry mom), I then focused on German and Jewish history. This "Plan B" did actually keep me on track to my MA in German-Jewish history, and although I eventually opted out of an academic career (sorry mom), that academic switch changed my life. I began my scholarly journey in Jerusalem and continued it in Vienna, Heidelberg and Berlin - a melting pot of culture and thought, though more importantly, the place I met my wife at.
To this intriguing city, Berlin, I came in 2006. Having finishing my academic studies here, I became a parliamentary assistant with a scholarship of the German “Bundestag" (the Federal Parliament), which granted me many insights into German politics and their way of doing things (or avoiding them). Although this wasn't really the program's purpose, I happened to notice that most German politicians have something in common: They are quite convinced of this nation's new moral superiority, supposedly forged by the catastrophe of the war. To me, this seems more like a new outfit for an old pattern...
While working in the Bundestag, I was asked to give some tours to foreign visitors, and that's how I discovered this field and how fulfilling it is. Except for guiding, I continue to work in my other professional field: I'm a certified legal translator (here's more about that), and have also been translating, by now for over two decades, mostly academic literature from Hebrew into German and vice versa, for publishing houses in Germany and Israel. Yet what I love most is touring my city.
Even after long years of research, there's always something new to discover: Another story, another piece of history, another insight. Thanks to my guests, I've been exposed to many different perspectives on Berlin, which leaves no one indifferent. And that's what touring is about for me: An ongoing dialog, the sharing of perspectives, and learning from each other.
Natalie about herself:
I was born in a small town in West-Germany and came to Berlin in 2009 to study history and political science. I did not only choose Berlin because of its excellent universities, but also because of the freedom it promises for each of its inhabitants, its rich cultural life and its fascinating history which can be seen at almost every corner. Berlin's beauty differs a lot from those of other cities like Paris or Rome. It's not so much about lovely houses or old traditions, but in its own way it's just wonderful, deep and meaningful.
In Berlin, I found my way to Judaism and fell in love with Yoav shortly after that. I'm not only interested in Jewish religion, but also in the history of the Jewish people that I wish to become a part of.
I started guiding in 2013 and have also worked in some other interesting projects, for example as an academic assistant for the Konrad Adenauer foundation in a Holocaust education project. Searching for a thorough understanding of the Holocaust has always been my deepest interest, expressed in my academic studies and my work for the foundation as well as a history guide in Berlin. I also volunteered in a political NGO against antisemitism. Furthermore, I worked for two members of the German Parliament, where I got some very interesting insights into German politics. During the pandemic, I took on a part-time job at the German Resistance Memorial Center.
There is so much to see in Berlin and I'd love to show you the city and its secrets. As your guide, I'm not only there to explain about the sites and their meanings, but also to show you some cool places to have a walk or a drink after the tour. I'm sure we can have a wonderful time together and I’m looking forward to meeting you!
So how did you meet?
Not totally unlike Erik Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts", we actually met in the famous Tiergarten, Berlin's central park. That was in 2011. Three years later we got married :-)
Our portraits above are from a larger painting by our dear friend and fabulous artist Rose Magee (it's a kind of homage to the very German style of "New Objectivity" from last century's Golden Twenties).