Is it permissible to show images of Jewish women with their heads shaved but without a head covering as they walk towards Nazi gas chambers?Why?!? Do they realize how pathetic they're being? Do they understand that by censoring women, they're giving the impression that female lives were expendable? In reality, they're cooperating with sects like Satmar that never fought seriously against such bigotry, and what if there were kapos of Haredi background whose names need to be known? Are they going to censor that too?
This is the type of question faced by organizers of the first Holocaust museum to be aimed specifically at Orthodox Jews.
Elly Kleinman, the Orthodox businessman behind the project, sought the advice of a Hasidic rabbi on this question not long ago. Kleinman said that the rabbi told him: “Are you allowed to show it? You are obligated to show it.”
But Kleinman, who declined to name the rabbi, said he wanted to accommodate the cultural sensitivities of the community’s more conservative wing.
So, for groups that shun images of women, the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center will have a separate track in which the material on display will not include pictures of women.
“Our objective is to cooperate with all constituencies,” Kleinman said, adding, “We expect to resolve these issues within the community.”
Kleinman has aims for the museum that go beyond just telling the story of the Holocaust itself. He wants visitors to learn about the vibrancy of Orthodox life in prewar Europe and about the flourishing of Orthodox life after the Holocaust. He also wants them to think more about anti-Semitism and about how easily a civilized country such as Germany could descend into barbarity. Jews often refer to America as a medina shel chessed — a country of kindness — Kleinman said. But toleration can disappear in an instant.Civilized? Even in centuries past, that could be disputable, given that this was a country from where the Vandals came from during 429 led by king Genseric, and the society that cooked up the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
In several interviews with the Forward, Friedmann and his colleagues said that the Holocaust has been a neglected topic in the ultra-Orthodox education system for decades.I assume it's because they considered it too "secular" for their mindset.
Most children have been raised in households of survivor parents or grandparents. But until recently, the Holocaust was not taught in ultra-Orthodox schools. Even today, only a minority of schools, mainly girls schools, teach the subject.
Rabbi Dovid Reidel, the KFHEC’s director of research and archives division, said museum staff are still grappling with how to portray women in the Holocaust without upsetting religious sensitivities.If they go that route, they'll be blowing everything. To censor images of women is wrong, and would give the wrong impression about the value of life for both sexes. More to the point, if the Haredi schools refuse to attend simply because of women's imagery, then they're the guilty party, and are putting petty discrimination before historical knowledge. The museum should not seek to please Haredis who consider women inferior, something which, let us note, the nazis were doing during WW2.
“The last thing we want to do is suggest there weren’t women in the Holocaust,” Reidel said. [...]
Asked how the museum could depict both women’s stories without offending ultra-Orthodox men, Reidel said that on days when ultra-Orthodox school groups visit the museum, they might have to make sure no images of the women are on display.