TODAY   |  April 03, 2013

‘Jew in the Box’ exhibit in Berlin stirs controversy

An exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Berlin features a Jewish man or woman in a transparent box, answering people’s questions. The exhibit is intended to be educational, but some are dubbing it “humiliating” and “idiotic.” NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>>> back now at 7:43 with a new exhibit that just opened at a museum in germany, its goal is to help educate people about the jewish community and we will tell you right now this approach is very controversial, some say inappropriate. nbc's michelle kosinski is in berlin with the story. michelle, good morning.

>> reporter: hi, savannah. the point is among germany's more than 80 million residents only about 200,000 of them are jewish , many germans have never met someone jewish . this is a chance for them to learn and the curator says it's a play on the fact that many jus here, including herself, often feel like they're curiosities. in the museum's quiet, this exhibit speaks at times uncomfortably loudly. ido parot might blend in but for the fact is he part of the exhibit. what some have humorously or furiously dubbed the "jew in a box." you're in a box.

>> i'm in a box.

>> reporter: does it feel weird to be sitting here?

>> it feels weird but people have the privilege now to talk to someone.

>> reporter: and they talk.

>> jewish people always stick together a lot.

>> reporter: some approach nervously. this girl had never met someone jewish , wanted to know what it's like for israeli born ido to live where eminders of the holocaust are present. this boy asked if he could tell a holocaust joke.

>> it's not acceptable.

>> reporter: it was a good question.

>> this is exactly what the exhibition wants to say.

>> reporter: the brainchild nicole friedlander says jews feel like a rare species under glass.

>> somebody has said to me, i've never touched a jew, may i touch you? there's always a strange nervousness that happens. we want to get over that.

>> i think it's very friendly. there are still a lot of people who think jews look different. we are normal people.

>> reporter: but not far away, this restauranteur could not feel more differently about it.

>> it's humiliating. we are human beings . the idea of the plexiglass is just, it's just shocking. it's shocking.

>> reporter: the curator said look, plenty of museums only show the past and death and she wanted to show life and continuity and if it's sparking a discussion then it is working. savannah?

>> michelle kosinski in berlin for us. let's start that conversation. how do you feel about the exhibit, is it offensive or do you think it's an educational opportunity? you can get involved on our web