Museum suspends Shabbat opening

By Jessica Elgot, January 5, 2012

The Jewish Museum has had a change of heart on Saturday opening and will be closed on Shabbat from this week.

In May, curator Rickie Burman said Saturday opening was geared to attracting non-Jewish visitors as part of the museum's brief to further interfaith understanding. No Jewish staff or volunteers were asked to work on Shabbat and the kosher café was closed.

This week, Ms Burman attributed the about-face to "economic reasons. We particularly wanted the museum to be open on Saturdays during our Entertaining the Nation exhibition about Jewish entertainers. But it is expensive to staff the museum on Saturdays when our regular volunteers aren't available. We will close it for 2012 on Saturdays, but it will be under review."

Writing to volunteers, front-of-house co-ordinator Leonie Warner partly put the decision down to "low visitor numbers".

After reporting the museum's plans for Saturday opening, the JC received a number of complaining letters, some from ex-volunteers at the museum.

In response, museum chairman Lord Young highlighted the "overriding objective to engage with people of all backgrounds and faiths to explore Jewish heritage.

"The museum is a secular institution, not a religious one."

Last updated: 1:21pm, January 5 2012