Divided in two, the Jewish Museum in Camden Town invites all to explore both the faith and culture of Judaism through time and geography from 1066 to the present day. Up the first flight of steps and you’re in the first of two permanent floors, the religious side dubbed Judaism:A Living Faith. Entered through a narrow dark opening, this space reveals the traditions of life in a synagogue, surrounded by Jewish traditions in the home.
This round space, with the Torah centred is designed to mimic the structure of a synagogue, visited once a week by Jews. What surrounds, is the objects, experiences and traditions of Jewish home life. Including marriage contracts, Shabbat and Hanukah.
What follows a half floor above is the cultural section dubbed History: A British Story. This is a brightly lit, open space exploring all manner of fields related to Jewish culture. A side room leading off from this space invites visitors to share their diverse identities.
A selection of four cards each have open questions relating to identity, belief and belonging. Responses, as you’d expect range from the literal to the comical.
There is a general theme of challenging general criticisms and assumptions of faith and Judaism through the exhibits. Opposite to these cards are a series of 12 black and white photographs of LGBTQ Jews taken in the UK as part of a project between Black Queer artist Ajamu, and Trans activist and Surat Shaan Khan’.
The adjacent wall at the back of the room frames The Memorial Window by Abram Games. This striking piece stained glass window masks the two intertwined triangles of forming the Star of David with coloured angled medal ribbons, created by a graphic designer who served in the Herefordshire Regiment.
Throughout the museum is incorporated a great amount of interaction for visitors of all ages to enjoy. These range from moving wooden paddles, dressing up and questioning and reflecting on their own experiences.
The same old story, shows how the same negative portrayal of Jews and immigrants is expressed in the same news outlets through the decades to present day.
A snakes and letters esque game aims to get visitors to emphasise with the challenges migrating Jews from Eastern Europe to Britain in the 1880s had to face. A luck of the spin determines your luck or misfortune.
All of this fosters a shared, collaborative environment, on the topic of a religion, that to many, seems very closed off.
The museum is available to visit starting from £4 for a child’s ticket, although a free admission can be acquired through a London Pass or Art Pass.