The end of the tunnel for our confinement seems to have appeared, but we are not there yet; patience is still required of us. As educators, this is the opportunity for us to take stock of what we have learned during this unique period. One of the major lessons for all of us, including our students and their parents, has undoubtedly been the strengths and weaknesses of digital technology. While the question of the digitization of education and its resources has been posed sporadically and discussed theoretically for a long time, the educational community found its back against the wall. There were many questions and challenges, but this was also an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.
Among new spaces opened during this period, has been the increased digitization of museum resources, especially Jewish museums, around the world. While the doors were closed and windows shuttered, cultural and educational teams strived, overnight even, to make their collections communicate differently. Everyone was able to benefit from this and virtually visit familiar and unknown museums. Some museums had already digitized part of their collections, and this was an opportunity for everyone to refresh and increase their digital collection. Educators, children, the curious, academics, the unemployed, and many more have been able to visit Jewish museums in Berlin, New York, Prague, Jerusalem, all over, from their sofas .
The museum in Berlin now offers an online showcase stating that “Not everyone who is interested in our topics can visit us. That’s why we regularly develop content that works on its own, without a visit to the museum.” There, you can learn about “1933: The beginning of the End of German Jewy”, “Looting and Restitutions”, and even “Golem: From Mysticism to Minecraft”. The Israel Museum has also developed its own virtual tour site , like that of New York. The Museum of Art and History of Judaism in Paris has had its collections online for a long time and has taken advantage of the confinement by regularly sending its members a newsletter “The MAHJ at Home”, including even videos of older events. All these newsletters are available on their website.
Additionally, many of these museums have developed numerous and creative educational resources for children. In The Museum of Art and History of Judaism in Paris weekly newsletter, there is a special pdf highlighting a section of their collection. When confinement ends, and the museum reopens, it will continue to offer virtual educational workshops , such as “Au Théâtre avec Chagall” or “Jardin des délices”. The Jewish Museum of New York offers homemade art projects in the style of artists on display; for example, a poster like Lawrence Weiner, printout abstract stamps like Eva Hesse, a still life like Audrey Flack or Felix Nussbaum or a sculpture from found objects like Rachel Feinstein. The Israel Museum has developed a Children’s Corner on their virtual resource site. There are classic paintings to color, guided activities (sand workshop with famous artist Micha Ullman, making a lantern with lasagna, jewelry with old slides, etc.) and educational videos (on history scrolls from the Dead Sea or the invention of the alphabet).
Perhaps you have already visited these museums with your children and students, were planning on visiting soon, or you weren’t ever planning on seeing it. In any case, among the many unexpected opportunities given by the Coronavirus crisis, we can seize this opportunity to visit these fantastic museums with our children. This is an opportunity to show them Judaism outside of books and family habits (both of which are infinitely precious!) To show them Judaism through objects from other people, communities, times and places. If they are mature enough, they can even browse these sites alone while you participate in your video conferences!
For your children, visiting a Jewish museum physically or virtually is the opportunity to walk through a shared story, to feel that you belong to something bigger, from beyond yourself. This is an opportunity to wonder about what your life would have been like if you were born in the Mellah in Casablanca at the end of the 19th century, in Venaissin County or Odessa in 1910. Thanks to these museums, we now have the opportunity to see beyond the walls of our confined houses or the vacations that have been canceled
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