By Avril Alba
The Holocaust Memorial Museum unearths and strains the transformation of historic Jewish symbols, rituals, archetypes and narratives deployed in those websites. Demonstrating how cloaking the 'secular' heritage of the Holocaust in sacred apparel, memorial museums generate redemptive but conflicting visions of the that means and software of Holocaust reminiscence.
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Additional resources for The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space
Perhaps the relationship between the particular and the universal finds its fullest expression when applied to Holocaust history and memory. ’127 In this formulation, the genocide of European Jewry has been transformed from a historical event contingent upon discrete social, political and historical factors, to a necessary (albeit tragic) means to a ‘greater good’. Here the particular is also the universal. Not only is the extermination of European Jewry characterized as a historical event that resonates beyond its time, but it is also understood to exhort an ‘ethical imperative’ similar to that of Exodus 23:9 – to ameliorate or avoid further sufferings of its kind to anyone, anywhere – through the universalistic framework of human rights discourse.
Onto what were its bases sunk? Who set its cornerstone When the morning stars sang together And all the divine beings shouted for joy? (Job 38:4–8) What is assured in the Divine rebuke is that meaning and order do exist (the earth’s foundations), that God’s ‘plan’ is there although it may only be partially gleaned. What is compelling about the Jobian narrative is its insistence on both the terrible incomprehensibility of human suffering and the unrelenting human desire to make sense of these experiences within the limited realm of human inquiry.
This particular/universal paradigm is evident throughout Jewish thought and literature. Certainly, much of the Hebrew Bible insists that the experience of Israel is tied to that of her neighbours. Perhaps the clearest expression of this recurring theme in the tradition is contained in the understanding that the God of Israel and the God of Humanity are one and the same: To Me, O Israelites, you are just like the Ethiopians, declares the Lord. True, I brought Israel up from the land of Egypt but also the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir.
The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space by Avril Alba