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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jewish Heritage

Last night, I went with my cousin to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which is free on Wednesday nights from 4-8 PM. The main exhibit is a Holocaust Memorial chronicling the events of the Holocaust from Hitler's appointment as Chancellor through the liberation of concentration camps and subsequent resettlement of refugees. It was well done, and I have to admit that it drew a few tears to my eyes while walking through.

I've been to Holocaust Memorial exhibits before, including Yad Vashem in Israel and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. I think it's very important to have these exhibits and to ensure that the memory of such an atrocity does not fade away, in order that such an event does not occur again.

Oh wait. That kind of thing does occur. All the time. Just not to Jews right now.

It was hard walking through the exhibit and seeing what hatred there was/is to my own cultural group, a group that I identify with so strongly. A part of my identity that I don't think I could hide if I tried, despite my looks being not typically "Jewish." But to think that a whole collaboration of people could bond together over their hatred for a group of people is intensely scary. Which is why I think memorials and museums are important.

But I wasn't sure that this particular museum was the right place for it. The Museum of Jewish Heritage. To me, Jewish Heritage is so rich and interesting and fascinating. There are some low points, like the Holocaust for one example, to be sure. But there are some wonderfully high points in our history as well. And so many characters and events and traditions that could have been represented as our heritage, rather than almost exclusively focusing on one time in which was such a bleak, dark spot on our history.

I know there are lots of museums out there who do offer our heritage. Maybe this one just needs a different name.

2 Comments:

  • And so many characters and events and traditions that could have been represented as our heritage, rather than almost exclusively focusing on one time in which was such a bleak, dark spot on our history.

    Is this the only exhibit? Is it permanent or is it just what they happen to be showcasing right now.
    I agree that it would be nicer to promote less dark parts of our history.

    Nice to know it is free on Wednesdays. I will try to check it out. (Good activity for the 3 weeks)

    By Blogger SaraK, at 6/5/08, 4:33 PM  

  • I completely agree. I think one of the things that alienates many younger Jews from their Jewish identity is this constant focus on the negative aspects of being Jewish. They see the Holocaust and all the things they can't eat.

    Instead, our Jewish heritage should focus on all the amazing things about being a Jew. Extra days off, bagels and lox.... just kidding.

    I think you can also look at this Museum as being incredibly reductionist. The Holocaust was (thankfully) not experienced by ALL Jews. It disproportionately affected the Ashekenazim, although many Sephardim in Greece and Romania suffered too.

    Our heritage should be a beautiful thing - not a monument to sinat hinam.

    By Blogger Shtetl Fabulous, at 6/15/08, 10:27 PM  

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