The Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center

By this morning, we were starting to get into the rhythm  of classes. In our literature classes, both groups finished discussing Anna Akhmatova and began reading verses by Alexander Blok, an important Symbolist poet. In our other classes for the day, 203 discussed genres of art and 303 had a wide-ranging discussion which touched on topics including ethnic tension, the national subconscious, and the Moscow metro.

After classes, we met for another excursion out into the snowy city, today led by one of our professors. After a slightly meandering trek, we arrived at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center. The first thing we saw was the sign in the above photo, which says “Here is the best place to take a free selfie with a background of the Jewish Museum”. The word ‘free’ isn’t extraneous – at almost all museums in Moscow, there’s an extra fee if you want to take pictures.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, today’s museum was actually more high-tech than the Museum of Cosmonautics (though both had some rather excitingly fancy toilets) – the exhibition space was entered through a “4-D experience” about the biblical story of the Israelites and the origins of Jewish thought and practice which included moving chairs and being spritzed with water during the story of the great flood.

The rest of the museum was a bit more traditional, though there were a number of high-tech interactive exhibits. What was most interesting was that unlike many such museums elsewhere, the Holocaust and its consequences were not the sole focus of the museum. There was a large video exhibit composed largely of interview with survivors – both soldier and civilian – of the war years, but it was bracketed on either side by equally substantial exhibits on the role of the Jewish population in the Bolshevik Revolution and on the lives of Jews in the Soviet union after the war until the perestroika. There was also a large exhibit about life in the shtetls at the center of the museum space.

After our visit to the museum, we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant near the university. Moscow might not be the first place you would expect to find superb risotto and pizza, but we found some! At last, we returned to our dormitory to (hopefully) do our homework, and then to head to bed.




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