A Jewish Dictionary (or Poetics?) of dealing with Struggles

Sometimes just a bit of funky creativity is enough to make us smile and make our days are brighter. As the Fun Museums Social stories roll on, today I will present a short but rich book, A Jewish Dictionary.

The Art of Carrying On

I will start this article with a little quote from an archaic version of my own language, Croatian. “Nigdar ni bilo da ni nekak bilo” is a quote from a historical poem written by the great Miroslav Krleža. A specific context along with the archaic character makes it complicated to translate it accurately, but the meaning could be explained as “there haven’t been times in which we hadn’t somehow carried on”. It is an expression that perfectly describes the never-ending dynamics of the world in which we live. 

Carrying on is the expression of toughness. Who remembers the poster “keep calm and carry on”? Although it was a popular meme in the earlier years of social media, it dates back to much older times, to the Second World War in the UK. It appeared as a light irony, and at the same time, it was a call to – just carry on.

Pandemics and Poetics – a Jewish Dictionary

Now as we are trapped in a recurring situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of artistic expressions have emerged, trying to describe the current phenomenon of “carrying on”. The creative process has resulted in a dictionary.

A Jewish Dictionary

As a huge fan of dictionaries, languages, etymologies, and so… I found this book quite exciting. Most importantly, it refers to a particular culture, the Jewish. Composed by the Jewish Museum of Switzerland as a combination of works from different authors, it presents some of the most common words and expressions that surged with the surge of the current situation. First, it makes you learn the essence of Jewish perspective of the situation. Second, you read some light ironies, and after that, some perplexing feelings. After all, it is some genuine creative therapy.

Presenting your own culture is never easy, mostly because you need to make the others, humans who belong to (an)other culture(s), understand it. The Jews have the unfortunate history of being accused in the context of conspiracies. With the common tendency of the majority to point their fingers to some supposed “groups to blame”, the history repeats itself.

Personally, I think that this book-dictionary presents it all very well to foreigners, to others, who need to learn about it… As much as everyone could feel for atrocities made against the Jews throughout the history, everyone can also feel for the victims of the pandemic. Despite the obvious differences, lives are always lives, and grief is again grief. 

Travelling without a need to go anywhere

Through the #ArtOfDiscovery we easily make journeys we haven’t made yet. Traveling gets tough and stressful, especially if we are dealing with lack of time or money, but we still try to travel as much as possible. Visiting museums from home, or enjoying their growing online collections comes like a unique opportunity to travel from home.

Meanwhile, I am dreaming about visiting Basel, the city in which the museum is located. I perceive it as a city of museums and some lively cultural scene, while at the same time it is not too big city. So with Slow Travel as a holistic and sustainable traveling style, I will definitely make a route throughout that area of central Europe. Most importantly, I will dedicate at least 3 days to Basel.

The Pandemics and Poetics – A Jewish Dictionary is available through the online shop of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland. It is available in English and – auf Deutsch.

Pandemics and Poetics: A Jewish Dictionary
My favourite page from the booklet.

Finally, this small book is more than just fun. In fact, conspiracy theories about the Jews are some of the very first conspiracy theories. Guess what? In the current pandemic, we hear many of those. In the following week, we’ll celebrate one of the most important anniversaries in Europe’s history. 27th of January is the day on which, in 1945, the Allies finally liberated the terrible death camp Auschwitz.

For that occasion, Fun Museums will make sure to be Serious Museums, and too commemorate. I am looking forward to publishing a thoughtful article for that occasion. Stay tuned!

Read also: My 2018 article on Are museums supposed to be fun?

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