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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid