Human Evolution Exhibit Covered to Avoid Offending Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Jerusalem museum censors exhibit

Authorities of Jerusalem's Natural History Museum frequently covers their human evolution exhibit under a sheet to keep the ultra-Orthodox visitors from being offended . The display title written in Hebrew reads, “The beginning of human evolution and culture.” The exhibit provides in detail the gradual and slow transformation from ape to modern homo sapien. It has a number of skulls, ancient hunting tools, and models along with written explanations.

The matter came under scrutiny when a member of the museum staff asked a visitor to leave when she asked the authorities why they censor the display. Chaya David, the visitor in question, said she was shocked and saddened by the incident, terming it not only unwarranted but also not legal.

The museum in its defense said it had all the necessary approvals from the municipal authorities to conceal the exhibit. Other than human evolution, two other displays, sexuality of the human body and dinosaurs, are also hidden when ultra-Orthodox Jews come to visit. The problem is that even when there were no ultra-orthodox Jews on the premises, the exhibits continue to remain covered. The museum blamed human error and short-staffing as the principal reasons.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews do not regard the scientific evolutionary theory as valid. They accept the Biblical version as the valid one. The Bible states humans were created differently from other animals. The traditional reading of the Holy Bible states that the world came into existence 5,778 years back. Science proves otherwise. Modern science quotes the human evolution to be 13.8 billion years old. Human evolution took over thousands of years. A few ultra-orthodox Jews do not believe in dinosaurs. Human reproductive organs are also not taught to children.

Many observant Jews reconcile their Torah beliefs with scientific temper by explaining the Biblical creation story in a number of non-literal ways. Chaya David, the visitor who first complained, is Jewish herself. The 31-year-old mother, along with her two children, visited the museum when the Passover festival was going on.

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