News / Europe

Exhibit at Berlin Jewish Museum Stokes Debate

Exhibit at Berlin Jewish Museum Stokes Debatei
X
April 15, 2013 8:45 PM
An exhibit at Berlin's Jewish Museum aims to educate museum-goers about Jews in Germany today. Nearly 180,000 German Jews were killed in the Holocaust, almost the entire community in Germany in the lead up to World War II. Today, the number of Jews in Germany has grown but the percentage of Germany's total population is still miniscule. One display in the show has a Jew sitting in a plexiglass box answering questions about Jews from visitors to the museum. Some critics say the show is degrading, and headline writers have dubbed the exhibit "Jew in a Box." But the show, as Michael Scaturro reports from Berlin, seems less controversial to those visiting the museum.
Michael Scaturro
An exhibit at Berlin's Jewish Museum aims to educate museum-goers about Jews in Germany today. Nearly 180,000 German Jews were killed in the Holocaust, almost the entire community in Germany in the lead up to World War II.  Today, the number of Jews in Germany has grown but the percentage of Germany's total population is still miniscule.

One display in the show has a Jew sitting in a plexiglass box answering questions about Jews from visitors to the museum. Some critics say the show is degrading, and headline writers have dubbed the exhibit "Jew in a Box." But, the show seems less controversial to those visiting the museum.
 
The exhibit at Berlin’s Jewish museum seeks to answer frequently asked questions about Jews.     
 
Are all Jews religious?  What makes food Kosher?
 
What do Jews wear on their heads and why? And who can become a Jew?

One display is a plexiglass cube, open at the front, where a Jew sits every day but Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, answering questions from museum-goers.  

On a recent day, Signe Rossbach, a Jew from Berlin, sat in the cube and talked to non-Jews who approached. She said she wanted to participate because most Germans have never met a Jew.

"They don't meet any Jews, most of them, and I thought this was a great idea," she said.,

A German-Canadian couple were surprised by the cube, but they liked it.

"I always seem to find that Germans, my husband being one, and his family, are very undereducated when it comes to knowing who the victims at their hands in the Second World War were," said Karen. "They don't really have any understanding of what a Jew is culturally."

"We come from that generation, we still have part of that guilt in us, even, even though we never did anything personally," her husband Robert said.

Curator Michal Friedlander, also Jewish, says she was motivated by the fact that many young Germans say the Holocaust was so long ago, there's no need to discuss it anymore.     
 
"We want them to remember the terrible history but perhaps there is a new way to enter into dialogue," he said.  
 
Historian Alexander Hasgall, another visitor, said the box is a good idea.
 
"This exhibition is an experiment. It can really fail, when we see everyone’s just laughing, and nothing else," he said. "But maybe it opens new ways to deal with Judaism, taking into account that German society is evolving, and Jews are a part of this society.”

The exhibit runs until September 1 this year.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid