BERLIN –The Jewish Museum in Germany’s capital city Berlin triggered fierce criticism last week for its exhibit “The Whole Truth... everything you always wanted to know about Jews” because the installation encloses Jews in a glass box.
The publicly funded museum opened the exhibit as a provocatively
pedagogical way of reaching non-Jewish visitors to explain the meaning of
Jewishness and Judaism, according to the management of the museum.
exhibit, however, has unleashed blow-back because it allegedly dehumanizes
The British Daily Mail quoted Eran Levy, an Israeli who lives in
Berlin. “It’s a horrible thing to do – completely degrading and not helpful,” he
said. He added “the Jewish Museum absolutely missed the point if they wanted to
do anything to improve the relations between Germans and Jews.”
current exhibit places Jewish men and women into a glass box every two hours to
answer questions from visitors, about Jewish life and religion. The trailer
video on the museum’s website asks questions “How can you recognize a Jew?” and
“Was he circumcised?”
Additional questions listed on the advertisement to
attract visitors read: “Are all Jews religious?” and “How does one get to the
synagogue on Shabbat?” and “What makes someone Jewish?”
The placement of Jews in
a glass booth conjures up the trial of the infamous Nazi Adolf Eichmann enclosed
in a glass booth at his 1961 trial, for his work in carrying out the
extermination of European Jewry during the Holocaust.
executed Eichmann after his conviction.
The General Secretary of the
105,000-member Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan J. Kramer, declined
to participate in the exhibit. According to media reports, he ridiculed
the exhibit for its depiction of Jews.
It is not the first time that
Berlin’s Jewish Museum has been under fire. Last year, the museum hosted an
American anti-Israel academic – Dr. Judith Butler – who used the museum’s
venue to call for a boycott of Israel.
Butler received a euphoric welcome
and applause from roughly 700 Germans at the sold-out event. The museum banned
questions about Butler’s statement that “Understanding Hamas/Hezbollah as social
movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global
left, is extremely important.”
Israel’s embassy in Berlin rebuked the
museum for holding an event that delegitimized the Jewish state. The Butler
event triggered outrage because the Nazis’ campaign against Jews started with
boycotts of Jewish businesses and expulsions from jobs.
Teichtal from the Jewish Chabad community in Berlin told the Daily Mail that
non-Jewish Germans who want to learn about Jews and Judaism should visit the
Chabad community educational center in Berlin. “Here Jews will be happy to
answer questions without sitting in a glass box,” he said.