FW: Center for Jewish History #hungary

Louis Schonfeld <lmagyar@...>

With the permission of Rabbi Marmorstein I am presenting a summarized
version of our discussion on my "article" about the Center for Jewish
History that was presented here earlier (8/31/98).

-----Original Message-----
From: Mehadrin@aol.com [mailto:Mehadrin@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 1998 1:03 PM
To: lmagyar@en.com
Subject: Center for Jewish History

After reading Louis Schonfeld's letter of complaint, I would like
to point out that Leo Baeck's ancestors came >from Moravia to Hungary in
the 1820's, and that he never attempted to conceal his Hungarian Jewish origin.

There is much information of interest to Hungarian Jews in the Leo Baeck
Institute. The YIVO institute's material is primarily related to
Lithuania, with little relating to Poland, Galicia, Latvia, Romania or any other Yiddish speaking community. Actually only two countries in Europe will be represented by specific collections in the Center for Jewish History. If there was a Hungarian Jewish Museum, A Moroccan Jewish Museum, a Sephardic Jewish Museum, a Galician Jewish
Museum, a Chassidic Jewish Museum, a Ukrainian Jewish Museum etc., they would have certainly been invited to relocate to the new premises. In fact, these institutions do not exist..... so whose fault is that? places like the LBI were founded by people of German Jewish background who chose to donate money and books to preserve this legacy, we cannot blame them for the fact that no- one saw fit to do the same for other geographic Areas.

Best wishes
A. Marmorstein

Dear Rabbi Marmorstein,

Much of what you write would be acceptable to me except for the fact that
the new institution will be called THE Center for Jewish History. If only
two countries are to be represented then why the misnomer? The fact that Dr. Baeck did not hide his Hungarian Jewish origins has no bearing on this
issue. Its interesting that you claim that YIVO's material is primarily
related to Lithuania, since YIVO's own literature claim that it is the
representative institution for Yiddish speaking Jewry. Even wilder is the
claim made by Zachary Baker, YIVO's chief librarian, that YIVO will
represent Hungarian Jewry in the Center since Professor William McCagg (of
Jewish Nobles and Genius fame) donated his papers and much of his library to the institute. In the eyes of the public, YIVO represents what it claims to represent, and that is Yiddish speaking Jewry.

You are also confusing the museum's role in this new complex. The only
museum that will be represented there will be the Museum of Yeshiva
University. The Sephardic Federation has no museum planned for that
location. However, the new center will become the new American focus for
Sephardic Jewish culture and history.

Finally, and perhaps most upsetting to me is the implication that because German Jews donated money and books to create their institution and perhaps Lithuanian Jews did the same for YIVO that they have a right to call the shots in the Jewish public domain.

After all is said and done, I have no quarrel with anyone establishing any
institution, especially one devoted to Jewish scholarship. Let them do what
they want with their money and their talent, but please don't, under any
circumstances usurp Hungarian Jewry's legitimate claim for a manifest
presence in a building that aspires to be called THE Jewish Center for
History. Call it for what it is, The Jewish Center for German and Yiddish
speaking Jewry, or The Jewish Center for Mittel & East European Jewry or
even THE Jewish Center for History- Exclusive of Hungarian Jewry Whose
Descendants Wouldn't Put Up Their Money. This last title may be a bit
unwieldy, but at least its the truth.

With all due respect and admiration,
Louis Schonfeld

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