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What are contemporary Jewish cultures?

What are Jewish cultures? What is a Jewish present? When does it take place? How do we recognize it?

A Museum Must Perceive!

Museums are storehouses of collective memories. But it is also important that collections are able to reflect particular current values, standards, processes and phenomena. Often however, the significance of objects is only recognizable from a greater distance in time. The key to a meaningful expansion of the collection lies in an attentive and continuous observation and analysis of the present.

The collection focal point Contemporary Jewish Cultures can be characterized by a large thematic, religious and cultural diversity. Its aim is to explore, outline, depict, and communicate a wide and authentic image of contemporary Judaism and its culture while taking into account religious and cultural diversity.

Gary Tobin, founder of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, San Francisco, 2006

"So many of our traditions themselves have inherent cultural aspects. Take the Seder Evening: essentially it is highly theatrical! If religiousness is removed from the culture, it becomes uninteresting."

Where Do We Find Contemporary Jewish Culture?

We can find it in:

  • Life stories, liturgical music, synagogue and community architecture, literature, religious writings…
  • Videos, magazines, Internet sites, photographs, musical recordings, art, ritual objects…
  • Themes like the repercussions of the Shoah, immigration from the states of the former Soviet Union, identification with Israel, religiousness, secularism, stereotypes, anti-Semitism, Jewish humor, cuisine, Jewish languages in use…

Discuss With Us!

  • In your view, what makes a thing contemporary testimony? Can you give examples?
  • What time period do you think contemporary Jewish culture covers?
  • Can you name an object you regard as part of contemporary Jewish culture?
  • What do you see as a "Jewish object"?
  • Do you have a contemporary Jewish object you would like to show us?
  • Can you tell us something about contemporary Judaism?