Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My opinion

A few posts ago I mentioned that I went to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. I started writing this then and am attempting to finish it now. These are strictly my own opinions and my thoughts are still continuing to evolve.

Firstly, this is the second time I have been there. I went last spring as a chaperone with the 7th graders in my school. At that time I was impressed and pleased with the way they approach this topic with children. They have an interactive video game (has to do with strong v. weak) using animated frogs. I'm not describing it well but the message reached the kids. They heard a survivor speak (not of a concentration camp but he escaped the war as a young boy-do you use the word that way, I'm just curious?), and watched a movie about genocide as it relates to the world. I DID NOT see the main exhibit -it wasn't finished yet so I can't speak to that.

The recent time I went I did not see any of the museum, but was there for a professional development on the differences of Eastern v. Western Europe at the time of the Holocaust. The presentation was very well done and I learned a lot of facts that I previously did not know.

Now come the issues.

They provided dinner for those who attended the class but had NO KOSHER FOOD. I asked specifically and was told they served a "kosher style" meal and I was told that I could purchase a sandwich at their cafe-they carry some kosher sandwiches. I understand that most of the people who attend those meetings and go to the museum aren't Jewish or don't keep kosher, but what about those that do? Of all places I expected to be respected for mitzva observance. I mean my husband gets treated better than that at his work! They allow him to bring in kosher food for everyone, pay for a separate meal for him, etc. And he works for corporate America.

But all this food stuff led to a bigger issue in my mind. I am truly not trying to offend anyone, so I apologize in advance if I do-I know this is a touchy subject. It just really seems that they have removed the Judaism from being Jewish. Our belief system. Our religion. Where is that recognized? Are we a race, a culture only? Personally, I don't believe this to be true. We might be those but we also have a belief system. Other races (African-American, Hispanics, etc.) are all defined by cultural similarities but they don't all believe in the same ideologies. In order to identify yourself with Judaism (really and truly-not just by birth) you HAVE to have the belief in one G-D. That belief is a significant reason why we have been persecuted throughout the past. And that doesn't seem to be a focus. This Museum and Education Center has made this all about history. Their approach is intellectual, not emotional. And while I guess that has a place, I think that is a gross inservice to those that experienced the horror of that time.

As I have stated previously, these are just my perceptions. They do not reflect anyone else's views. Even though I started writing this post weeks ago, I am still feeling pretty emotional about it. It still just doesn't sit right with me.

What do you think? Am I way off in left field? Or do I make sense?


Shosh said...

When I first heard that the musuem's cafeteria wasnt kosher I had the same exact thought. I mean, really, its ridiculous. For exactly the reasons you stated.

And really, how hard would it be to make it Kosher? To accommodate the religious community? To give the business to a kosher caterer?
To remind people that we are JEWISH and that's why the Holocaust happened!

I kinda felt like it was a real slap in the face. But thats just me...

Yitz said...

Sorry honey, but while what you wrote about our belief system and being Jewish invoke nice and fussy feelings, they are totally different things. Being Jewish is defined with only two very specific states: 1. hereditary progression based on the lineage of the mother; 2. converting into Judaism following the proper laws and guidelines as defined in Judaic law.

If you are Jewish and believe in another G-d or ideology, it does not make you not Jewish. Some would say that it makes you a poor excuse for a Jew, but that is also a matter for debate. Personally, if one is a mentch, I’d take that any day over someone who “looks” the part but acts like a boor.
In contrast, merely practicing Jewish law and ideology, even if totally heartfelt does not make one Jewish. In fact, there is an entire belief and legal system integrated into Judaism specifically for gentiles - the seven Noahcite laws.

The following is from memory so I could be wrong on a couple of nuances:

I didn’t look up the official definition, but I totally agree that the term “Race” is often used in a very generic way and probably not accurately much of the time. If I recall properly, “race” has historically been referred to a group of people associated by a geographic location.
Interestingly, the original term to refer to a Jew is “Ivri”, back in the times of our Father Abraham, which more accurately refers to our people as a race, as it was geographically-based (Ivri in Hebrew is derived from the term Ayver HaYardain, or “across the river”, as that is where Abraham originated from and was referred to by the gentiles in his vicinity). The term “Jew” likely comes from the time in history that the Jews were split into two distinct Kingdoms in Israel during the times of the first Temple - One of those was named the Kingdom of Judah (Malchei Yehuda in Hebrew), and the modern derivative probably comes from there. Nowadays it certainly doesn’t define us as coming from a specific location on the world map.

I hope that clears things up bit. :)