How can we facilitate people learning more information about Jewish people and their culture? Put a Jew in a box and let folks ask him questions! That seems to be the rationale behind a Jewish museum’s unusual exhibit called “The whole truth…everything you always wanted to know about Jews.” One of the exhibit’s features is having a Jewish person sit in an elevated three-sided box and answer people’s random questions. Different people rotate for the “Ask a Jew” segment.
For visitors who might not be sure what to ask, the museum offers up eyebrow-raising prompts such as “Are Jews particularly good-looking, influential, intelligent, animal loving, or business savvy?” Yeah, let’s just not.
Slow clap for Germany still getting it wrong 70 years after WWII. It’s great to want to foster communication and healthy dialogue about Jewish culture–especially in a place like Berlin with such a long and complicated story of Jewish life–but this is not the way to do it.
Honest conversations about race, culture and ethnicity can be difficult to manage without someone feeling insulted or disrespected. It can be a challenging task even when only intelligent people are involved. Adding in a hokey performance art aspect does not help.
I recall many times in college being the only black person or one of a handful in a classroom and feeling the weight of seeming to speak for the whole race. And I have fielded many a sheepish question from a blushing non-black person about black culture. I don’t mind a dialogue as long as it remains honest and respectful and the questions come from genuine curiosity.
What are some of the more memorable conversations you’ve had about race in a diverse setting? Do you think the German museum exhibit is an insult to Jewish culture?
Demetria Irwin is a New York City-based freelance writer/editor. Follow her on Twitter,@Love_Is_Dope.