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How Jewish Museums Reflect the Condition of Mainstream Jews

They are still invoking dated forms of self-abnegation, or engaging in more or less ignorant forms of advocacy, or yearning for a vague universalism.

A placard at the 2011-2012 California Dreaming exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Flickr/donotlick.

A placard at the 2011-2012 California Dreaming exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Flickr/donotlick.

Last Word
Feb. 22 2016
About the author

Edward Rothstein reviewed the Museum of the Bible for the Wall Street Journal, where he is Critic at Large. His previous essays in Mosaic include “The Unusual Relationship between Abraham Lincoln and the Jews,” “The Problem with Jewish Museums,” and “Jerusalem Syndrome at the Met.”


Why are there Jewish museums? And what are they meant to accomplish? Among the many issues raised by the generous and thoughtful responses to my essay by Diana Muir Appelbaum, Walter Reich, and David Gelernter, these fundamental questions loom large.

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More about: American Jewry, Arts & Culture, Jewish museums