On January 28, 2014, Failed Messiah reported about the new Auschwitz Jewish Memorial's Kollel and Kiruv Center on site at Auschwitz, set to be launched in April of 2014. This is a sticky issue. Here are my questions:
- Why are other non-orthodox groups not stepping up to join forces here and offer either a non-denominational Jewish center or an all-encompassing Jewish center? I understand why people feel the need to have a spiritual place, after all, many Jewish (and non-Jewish) groups visit Auschwitz throughout the year.
- A kollel is a full-time yeshiva for married adult men. I can understand the desire for a community center for visitors, but why a kollel? And why at this location? Is it because the words "Auschwitz" and "Holocaust" inspire a certain emotional reaction that make it easier to raise funds to support an institution that if placed randomly in, let's say, Queens, New York, might not raise as much money? Isn't that taking advantage of the victims of the Holocaust for financial gain?
- Having visited Auschwitz while backpacking through Eastern Europe with a friend back in the 1990s, I can promise that it's a pretty sobering experience that can often leave people in an emotionally vulnerable state. My concern is that this kiruv center would serve to take advantage of people in this state, and push an ultra-orthodox agenda to those searching for meaning in the ruins of a place where their brethren were slaughtered. What gives the Auschwitz Jewish Memorial's Kollel and Kiruv Center the right to exploit people's very real emotional vulnerability in order to push their personal agenda?