a completely new type of Jewish museum…
No Torah covers or spice boxes. No catastrophes. No archeology.
No objects or historic events at all.
A museum devoted wholly to Jewish ideas…
Jewish ideas: a core set of insights that have played a powerful
role in transforming humanity and shaping Western civilization.
Much of what we take for granted in our daily lives – the way we
think about vital issues like peace and freedom and justice and our
duties to others and so much more – emerges from Jewish ideas.
This reality is little known. Many people think that Judaism is a religious
tradition with marginal relevance to daily life.
Few think about Judaism as it really is: an engine of ideas. These ideas helped propel civilization forward. They are responsible for an astonishing range of advances in the philosophical, legal, societal, cultural, and spiritual spheres that have transformed everyday life.
Do you enjoy the weekend? It’s built on a Jewish idea. Do you think that freedom from slavery is a goal worth achieving? It was originally a Jewish idea. Do you believe that animals should be protected from gratuitous suffering? That universal education and literacy are critical? That equality before the law is an important principle? That all human life is precious? These, and many other foundational notions, all spring from millennia of Jewish thought.
Yet no museum in the world focuses on this subject matter.
Understanding the origin of these concepts prompts awareness of the deep and lasting significance of Judaism. It opens the possibility for real dialogue about the impact of Jewish ideas in shaping civilization, and their ongoing potential going forward.
So the time has come to create something unprecedented: a Museum of Jewish Ideas (MOJI)…
Why a museum? Isn’t it possible to be exposed to this material through books? Unquestionably. But for the handful who read the available literature, the effect of a solitary, two-dimensional experience may leave little impression compared to the dramatic technological presentation achievable within a museum space.
Isn’t it possible to learn this material in a class? Without doubt. But the excitement of discovery and the social context of a museum experience make learning in a museum “come alive” in ways that the classroom cannot match. The museum, moreover, has the capacity to open worlds of Jewish insights to thousands more than classes can ever touch.
Hence, the content and reach of MOJI will be unique and will add a fresh perspective to the current museum and educational landscape.