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Jewrovision Song Contest: 'The Show Must Go On'

Verena Greb
May 25, 2022

The stage remained empty for two years, but Germany's Jewish communities now get to sing and dance again at the Jewrovision Song Contest 2022 in Berlin.

Nine men wearing black hats and sunglasses performing onstage.
The winners of the Jewrovision Song Contest 2019, Olam, brought the competition to BerlinImage: Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland

All the performances were rehearsed, all the costumes finished — but then, three days before the scheduled big event, the show scheduled on March 8, 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

"You can imagine that the disappointment among the young people was extraordinarily great," says Daniel Botmann, executive director of the organizing Central Council of Jews in Germany, and organizer of the Jewrovision Song Contest.

Based on the motto "The Show Must Go On," the event is now returning after a two-year break.

It is held in Berlin, following the group Olam's win in 2019, bringing the contest to their hometown.

This year, Olam will once again be part of the action.

"Never have we seen so much anticipation as this year. The kids and youth are hungry for community, for coming together, for being with each other. And it's going to be great," Botmann told DW. He himself is also very much looking forward to finally being able to experience a Jewrovision again.

Jewrovision, based on the concept of the Eurovision Song Contest

The idea of the event, which will enter its 19th round in 2022, is reminiscent of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), which was just held in Turin, Italy in May.

At the Jewrovision, children and young people from Jewish communities in various German cities compete by singing and dancing to songs they either cover or have written themselves.

As at the ESC, each group introduces itself with a specially produced video. That's why the jury may also award two prizes, one for the best performance and one for the best video clip.

A total of 12 youth centers and associations will take part in Jewrovision 2022; four groups less than those set to perform in 2020. The definitive decision that the competition could take place in 2022 was made at rather short notice after the partial lockdown this past winter, which led some cities to join forces, according to Botmann. And then the event was postponed once again from the original February date to May.

Many young people holding up trophies in front of a Jewrovision poster.
The last Jewrovision was broadcast in Frankfurt in 2019Image: Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland

The Jewrovision 2022 line-up

The "Jewro" kicks off on May 27 with the group Chasak Hamburg. 

And then, as tradition has it, the winning group of the last competition performs at the end; Olam Berlin will therefore close the event this year. The order in-between is a matter of lottery, drawn by rapper DAN.

The jury is composed of people familiar with the music business, including performer and director Uriel Yekutiel, who is also a well-known member of the LGBTQ community in Tel Aviv, and German singer and young actress Faye Montana.

Supporting program with guest appearance by Static & Ben El

The competition is traditionally part of a three-day youth gathering called "Mini-Machane." In addition, all participants celebrate Shabbat together — this year, it will follow the competition.

Daniel Botmann refers to it as a "religious youth gathering," in which 1,200 young people pray together and address specific topics at forums and panels. "Young people always come home with their batteries recharged after a weekend like this, and it's a great experience," Botmann said.

In addition, this year, all participants can look forward to a performance by Israeli pop duo Static & Ben El.

The first Jewrovision was created in 2002 as part of a weekend retreat. In the following years, more and more young people and Jewish youth centers took part.

Since 2013, the Central Council of Jews in Germany has hosted the event, which is supported by prominent figures. Patrons are the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Lisa Paus, and the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey.

Germany and the Eurovision Song Contest

This article was originally written in German.