Do we really need more museums?

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A groundbreaking ceremony for a new museum dedicated to the history of Jewish life and culture in Poland is set for next week.

Polish Jewry is worth memorializing, of course, but the number of museums dedicated to remembering decimated European Jewish populations makes me wonder: How much are these physical structures about the past and how much are they a manifestation of current anxieties about survival? Do Jews spend too much time, money, and energy remembering the past instead of building for the future?

Luckily, on the opposite side of the earth, the recently-announced Alaska Jewish Historical Museum provides a great model for a Jewish museum that avoids these problems. Alaskan Jews will not only have a permanent record of their existence there from the time of the Gold Rush to the present day, they will, more importantly, continue to ensure the existence of their community through the construction of an attached community center and day school.

(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)

Posted on June 26, 2007

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