As we observed Tisha B’Av we were reminded that, for most of our existence, the Jewish people have been dispersed among the nations of the world. We lost our homeland twice. In 586 BCE, we were carried off into captivity by the Babylonians. The uprisings against Rome in the first and second centuries CE concluded with the destruction of the second Temple and the end of the second Jewish commonwealth. Until 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel, we were a landless people. On the ninth of Av, we remember the savagery that has been perpetrated upon us. The Crusades, the Inquisitions, the pogroms, the genocides – all of this is part of our collective memory. We cannot and should not forget this terrible history.
A recent visit to Washington, D.C. reminded me that we are not alone. We are not the only people whose history is a chronicle of dislocation, exile, slavery and genocide.
Among the museums that comprise the Smithsonian Institution are two dedicated to specific peoples: The National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is not part of the Smithsonian network but is nearby, adjacent to the National Mall. [Read more…]