Peoplehood Papers 18: Jewish Peoplehood and Jewish Museums

Peoplehood Papers 18, a publication of the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education in collaboration with the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, is dedicated to the topic of Jewish Peoplehood and Jewish Museums, This issue explores how museum professionals understand their respective missions to educate, build community, and cultivate a sense of Jewish peoplehood. The challenges that Jewish museums face in our globalized and assimilated 21st-century world are numerous: Museums aim to present an evolving narrative suitable for pluralistic and diverse audiences. Their interpretation of Judaism and Jewish history needs to be faithful to the past, resonate with current perceptions, and inspire visions of the future. And Jewish museums are expected not only to construct and present a narrative but also to engage in it.

Jewish museums are arbiters of notions of peoplehood: civic-minded and secular at heart, they portray Jewish life as a culture with an enduring legacy that in myriad ways has shaped the societies of which it is a part. Particularly since the end of World War II, Jewish museums have become successful public cultural institutions engaged in the formation, strengthening, and shaping of Jewish identities for Jews and non-Jews alike. Since the end of the Cold War, scholars and curators have reimagined and theorized anew the purposes and possibilities of Jewish museums as they explore the communal experience and offer narratives about the past that illuminate contemporary themes.

This diverse collection of essays, written by leading museum professionals in Europe, Israel and the United States, offers a window into the complex arena of Jewish cultural representation and a conversation on the role and impact of Jewish museums as both educational platforms and civilizational engines. It is also fascinating to note where our contributors’ perspectives align or diverge, influenced by their geographic locations and sociopolitical contexts.

eJP will be publishing selected articles from Peoplehood Papers 18.

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