Friday, June 18, 2010

Museum offers glimpse into world destroyed

It's Friday, so it must be time once again for another posting of Interesting Jewish Stories & Facts (IJS&F). Today we take a look behind the scenes at a room filled with history from one of the darkest chapters of Judaism.

The Jewish Museum of Vienna, forced shut in 1938 by the Nazis and reopened in 1989, has several floors given over to temporary exhibits and traditional Jewish themes.

But hidden away on the top floor is a storage area, open to the public, which offers a poignant reminder of what was lost during the Holocaust.

Glass cases in the room are filled with ritual objects -- Torah scrolls, prayer shawls, kiddush cups -- and other bits of Judaica. The pieces, simply displayed with little commentary, are the remnants of the original museum -- items dating back decades to the late 19th century -- and objects salvaged from shuls and homes from across the region following the war.

There are thousands of items, most torn, burned or damaged from misuse and age. They provide mute and moving testimony to a vanished culture and a people lost.

PIECES OF HISTORY: Bits of Judaica (photo above), all that remain of Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe, on display in Jewish Museum of Vienna.

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