I recently read an opinion piece on line about the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. The author talked about what a moving experience it was and that the Museum was well done. Having been there, I agree. Still, I thought about an attitude my father, Z’’L used to have.
My father, who had taught college classes on the Holocaust and understood the importance of teaching the subject, also felt we needed to offer more. He objected to those people who would argue ‘We need to be Jewish because of all the suffering and persecution other Jews have endured.’ My father felt that was a terrible message to send. When Judaism has so much to offer, so much excitement, the best we can do is tell people to be Jewish because other people were persecuted. Is the message that maybe ‘You too can be persecuted?’
My Dad felt that when it came to the Holocaust, or any other chapter dealing with the Persecution of Jews, it should be taught, but it should only be one aspect. Museums that deal with this subject need to include exhibits about ‘Living Judaism’ and how it is practiced today and the fun and excitement it offers. He claimed that there were excellent examples of such Museums in New York City.
I guess you can put me in the Teyve category of “You’re right and you’re right and you’re right too”. I think that perhaps the most powerful message that can be sent about the Holocaust is when a museum deals only with the Holocaust. Still, I think it is important that people today understand not only about the tragedies but about the joys of being Jewish. So, how can they both be right? In the words of Tevye, “You know, you’re right too!”