[SNED] The Jewish Cultural Quarter

Monday 14 August, 2017

This morning I went to the Anne Frank museum. Stoker was with me as he'd never been to the Anne Frank museum either, and liked the idea of going on his last day in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, if you want to visit in the mornings, you have to reserve a place online. So we never made it inside. Instead, as it was such a beautiful day and our moods were bright and breezy, we went to the National Holocaust Museum.

Actually, first we went to the Portuguese Synagogue as it was open an hour earlier.

The Portuguese Synagogue reminded me of how much I really kind of despise the strictures and the hierarchies and the joylessness of organised religion. It also reminded me of the time I became a Jew on the Charing Cross Road.

The Jewish Cultural Quarter as a whole, which also contains the Holocaust Museum (still in development), the Jewish Children Museum, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Ets Haim Jewish Library, was a lot more involving and had a lot more varied, interesting stuff going on.


First there was the Jewish Jukebox exhibition, which is a history of Jewish music (and comedy) on shellac and vinyl; a very cool multi-media thing with an array of beautiful gramophones, walls and walls of weird and wonderful discs and lots of stuff to listen to.


Then there was the Fauvism to Surrealism exhibition, which was interesting. I discovered that I am a fan of the Hungarian painters Béla Kádár and Hugó Scheiber. Which is not something of which I was previously aware.

Then we took a stroll around the Jewish Historical Museum, which was as fascinating as it was depressing. It wasn't really a patch on Auschwitz, though, in terms of detail and impact. That's not a criticism by the way. This is a very good museum with some interesting information and illuminating exhibits. But Auschwitz is one of the most depressing places on Earth.

Today was a strange but sadly appropriate day to become immersed in stories of the Holocaust, it being the same day that has Trump refused to condemn neo-Nazis and essentially nailed his white supremacy colours (one colour) to the mast. The fact is, the Holocaust has never looked more likely to be repeated than it does this week.


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I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you’ll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

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