An as-yet unanswered question: Rabbi, is there a blessing for the Virtual Czar? The Museum of the History of Polish Jews—which isn’t projected to open until 2011—has launched a Virtual Shtetl. It’s less a Pale of Settlement village than a Wikipedia-style website, purportedly filled with historical information on some 800 Polish shtetls. In truth, it’s an odd and not particularly robust site, currently offering only a smattering of photos and information on the village. But the museum hopes descendents of shtetl-dwellers will add more data to the site, beefing up its content. If it works, it will yield a useful trove of data when the museum actually opens—and, until then, it at least serves useful marketing purposes. And reminds us to keep our eye out for Virtual Cossacks.
Jesse Oxfeld, a former executive editor and publisher of Tablet Magazine, is a freelance theater critic. He was The New York Observer’s theater critic from 2009 to 2014.