From an interesting interview with architect Daniel Libeskind at Nextbook.com
He's the architect responsible for the Berlin Jewish Museum, the extension of the Royal Ontario Museum and the design for the 1776 feet high World Trade Centre Tower (called the Freedom Tower.) His startling designs feature jagged edges, the play of light and incongruous juxtapositions of shapes, materials and in some cases, eras, cultures and traditions, like the way this new San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum abuts against St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Not sure I agree with his statement that American Jews don't identify with the synagogue anymore or with (as) Zionists. But the creation of Jewish museums does raise so many interesting questions with respect to identity, the position of a distinct community within a society, and the purpose of museums in general. I've always been slightly uncomfortable with the notion of Jewish museums. It suggests a sort of pickled, jarred, moribund existence. Something inactive, historical, to be exhibited, looked-at and pondered over. And why are there Jewish museums but not Roman Catholic museums? The creation of Jewish museums may have something to do with the fact that Jews have no sense of history, by which I mean, that culturally and theologically-speaking we have never distinguished between our historical existence and our contemporary one. They co-exist. For us, the past is everpresent and alive within the moment. It's implied in the biblical commandment "zakhor" (remember.) So can it be that the idea of a Jewish museum suggests the community's literal and figurative desire to concretize, and reposition its identity as something transforming toward the secular and historical (temporal as opposed to eternal)? And further, does this trend suggest a sort of spiritual atrophy?