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Controversial Jewish Museum in Germany Exhibit Puts “Jew in the Box”

In an attempt to help educate Germans about Jewish people, a Jewish man or woman sits inside a glass box in the Jewish Museum in Berlin for a few hours a day and answers questions from visitors about Jews and Jewish life. “Jew in the Box” is part of “The Whole Truth, everything you wanted to know about Jews” and will run through August.

“A lot of our visitors don’t know any Jews and have questions they want to ask,” said museum official Tina Luedecke. “With this exhibition we offer an opportunity for those people to know more about Jews and Jewish life”

Fewer than 200,000 Jews live among Germany’s 82 million people and few Germans born after World War II know any Jews or anything about them.

Many in the Jewish community – especially in the city where the Nazis killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust – are very critical of the exhibit.

“Why don’t they give him a banana and a glass of water, turn up the heat and make the Jew feel really cozy in his glass box,” prominent Berlin Jewish community figure Stephan Kramer told the Associated Press.

Museum curator Miriam Goldmann, who is Jewish, disagrees and feels the “in your face” approach of the exhibit is the best way to overcome the emotional barriers and deal with a painful subject for Jews and not-Jews.

“We wanted to provoke, that’s true, and some people may find the show outrageous or objectionable. But that’s fine by us.”

One of the provocative parts of the exhibit includes a placard that asks “how you recognize a Jew?” That’s right next to a collection of yarmulkes, black hats and women’s hair covers that hang from the ceiling on thin threads.

Another invites visitors to express their opinion on questions like “are Jews particularly good looking, influential, intelligent, animal loving or business savvy?”

Despite the controversy and the criticisms, the exhibit has proven to be a big hit among visitors. Many have come and asked legitimate questions, including what to bring hosts for a Shabbat dinner in Israel.

Source: Arizona Daily Star


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