Holocaust Museums and the Itch to Universalize

Why are so many Jews convinced that Jewish history, and Jewish pain, exist only to serve the needs of others?

Interior of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Wikimedia.

Interior of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Wikimedia.

Response
Feb. 15 2016
About the author

Walter Reich is Yitzhak Rabin Memorial professor of international affairs, ethics, and human behavior at George Washington University and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He was the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from 1995 to 1998.


Edward Rothstein’s “The Problem with Jewish Museums,” is one of the finest pieces of writing I know not only about Jewish museums but also about “identity museums” of all kinds. With concision and clarity he analyzes the development, the evolving character, and the preoccupations of these Jewish institutions. In so doing, he brings into stark relief the psychological needs and insecurities among many Jews that make nearly all museums focused on Jewish themes, including Holocaust museums, different from those devoted to the histories and experiences of other groups, especially in countries to which they’ve immigrated, and most especially in America.

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More about: Anne Frank, Arts & Culture, History & Ideas, Holocaust Museums, Jewish museums