Not only is the past gloomy and painful: the “We” Museum celebrates Jewish identity

Last March, the “We – The Museum of the Jewish People” was finally opened to the public, after ten years of curatorial, design and architectural planning and four years of invested construction.

The museum, located in the Tel Aviv University complex in a place formerly known as Beit Hatfutsot, has three floors and four wings spread over 7,000 square meters, making it the largest and most comprehensive center in the world in its field, as required by one located in Israel. , Dozens of specially produced films, interactive performances – and all on a technological scale that is unparalleled in Israel and there are only a few in the world.

But apart from telling the inspiring story of the Jewish people, “We” carries with it a new line. No longer just a gloomy and painful past. The Jewish people have undoubtedly gone through hardships, but today they have a lot to be proud of, and it is also allowed to touch and allowed to love. Here Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewry, Jerusalem Kegel and Moroccan couscous meet (if you want, you will also receive recipes there), Albert and Arik Einstein, Ofra Haza and Leonard Cohen, Woody Allen and Hannah Rubina, Estee Lauder and Albert Elbaz, Kafka, Maimonides, Jerry Sainf And even Miri Pascal from “Ahad Ha’am” – and many, many others.

The vision of the new brand “We” is to make Jewish identity an object of pride, to emphasize the common without erasing the different, to serve as a source of inner strength among all parts of the Jewish people around the world, and to strengthen our sense of belonging to the great Jewish story for generations.

“Every nation deserves a place that tells its story, and gives its people pride in who they are, their heritage and their roots,” says Irina Nevzlin, chairman of the museum’s board and president of the philanthropic foundation Nadav. To identify with Jewish culture and culture, and to celebrate our unique history and future. “

Museum Director Dan Tadmor adds that “it has never been more important to highlight what binds us together as a people: our history, culture, values ​​and sense of belonging. The museum represents what can be achieved through patience, perseverance and passion. “We ‘want to spread the good news that Jewish identity is a spectacular celebration that belongs to all of us.”

We Museum (Photo: Roni Canaani)

3rd floor – the mosaic

The Museum of the Jewish People begins today, today, on a floor that miraculously elevates the tremendous contribution of Jews in the modern era to human culture. Through a combination of lights and colors, hundreds of exhibits, innovative interactive performances, music in various shades and mind-expanding films, this floor spreads a variety of artists from all corners of the Jewish spectrum, bringing with them the colorful and fascinating space of contemporary Jewish identities and cultures – through folklore and arts, language and literature. The currents in Judaism and the contribution of Jews to humanity.

For lovers of film and television, literature and theater, music and fashion, this is a real celebration, because so far there has been no place that has been so showcased, side by side, the characters and cultural symbols we all love.

In the cinema complex, you will watch a film that describes the enormous influence of the Jews on the world film industry, without which Hollywood would not be what it is. Go through the pictures of international TV stars and you will be surprised to discover many names you did not know were part of the large Jewish family.

Among the performances is the original script for Stanley Kubrick’s Odyssey in Space, as well as the original ET doll from Steven Spielberg’s film – which is still high on the list of all-time successful films.

In another wing on the floor, dedicated to Jewish humor and its characteristics, you can sit in an exact replica of Jerry’s living room from the “Seinfeld” series – and relax in front of the TV. In another room, designed as the family room of every Israeli home in the 70s and 80s, you can also browse between the mythical “close relatives” and “this is it” and other programs that are pleasant to remember. Wax dolls from “Wonderland” are also here, but enough, we will not reveal everything to you. We’re just told that the kids in the bunch flew.

In the music complex, alongside the traditional Yemenite costume of Ofra Haza in the filming of the historical clip of “Galbi”, and the guitars of Leonard Cohen and Gene Simmons from the band Keys (born in Tirat Carmel as Haim Weitz), listen to Jews who changed the music in Israel and around the world. Mix of excerpts from all genres. Personally, only here I got stuck for almost an hour.

Also on this floor – innovative interactive exhibits where visitors can “cook” and discover traditions and inventions in Jewish cuisine with famous chefs. On a huge screen you will get the list of ingredients and how to prepare winning dishes like chicken soup with kneadlech, couscous, makuda, kegel, tzimes and more. You can get the recipes at the exit of the museum.

Behind the spectacular interactive performances, the original music tracks and films are creators from all walks of life in Israel. Among the prominent names who assisted in the craft: David Ofek (“Bat Yam-New York,” “permitting agunot”); The Moore Foundation (“Chamber Quintet,” “First Box Office”); Shaanan Street (Snake Fish); Lena Rubenko (“Fresh Paint”); Jeremy Pincus (“Haaretz”) and Assaf Hanukkah (“Waltz with Bashir”).

We Museum (Photo: Roni Canaani)We Museum (Photo: Roni Canaani)

2nd floor – the journey

In the middle of the 20th century, the Jewish historian Prof. Shalom (Salo) came out of the closet with a dramatic call to replace the lenses of the glasses through which we look at Jewish history, lenses that are painted in one color – black. Our history, Barun argued, is not just a “history of howls.” It also has intense brushstrokes expressing creativity and spirit, prosperity and success, genius and entrepreneurship. Why do we insist on hiding all this beauty from the world?

Since that statement by Prof. Baron, several decades have passed in which, despite the Holocaust and other disasters, the Jewish people have accumulated inconceivable achievements, expanded their historical worldview, and there is no doubt that Jewish civilization is alive and kicking. So as of the third decade of the 21st century, we may have to ask ourselves if it is not time to present our amazing story through pluralistic glasses that represent them all.

On the second floor of the museum we will discover the unique and ongoing story of the Jewish people, from antiquity to the present day. The path of visiting this floor makes it possible to meet the great Jewish centers of all periods. From ancient times – Alexandria, the Land of Israel and Babylon, where we will get to know the spiritual giants who created the Babylonian Talmud, along with daily life and mystical beliefs that conducted a dialogue with Hellenistic and Babylonian culture.

From there to the Middle Ages, with the Golden Age of Spain featuring figures such as the “Great Eagle” – Maimonides, the poet Ibn Gvirol and the astronomer Avraham Ibn Ezra. That women prayed and studied Torah in them.

Through the development of Jewish faith and creativity over the generations, and through an encounter of cultural and artistic dialogue between past and present, our path moves to the “Big Bang” – the beginning of the new age. There we will meet the influence of the invention of the printing press on the connection between Jews from different communities around the world. Then we will continue to the period of enlightenment, education and emancipation, following which we will meet the choices made by various Jews in the Diaspora, in the East and in the West, in the face of the changing reality.

All of these lead the way to the 20th century, when the Jewish street was ravaged by many and varied political movements, most notably Zionism, and the flourishing of secular Jewish culture. A vibrant and colorful world that was suddenly interrupted in the Holocaust, which is also presented here with all the respect it deserves without trying to sweep under the rug dark periods, since it is impossible.

The end of the floor expresses the sweeping changes that took place in the Jewish people after the Holocaust – the establishment of the State of Israel, massive migrations in search of a new homeland, deportation from Islamic countries, the fall of the Iron Curtain on Soviet Jewry and the vibrant and vital diversity of Jewish communities today.

We Museum (Photo: Yosefa Kimhi)We Museum (Photo: Yosefa Kimhi)

1st floor – the foundations

The last floor of the museum, which is actually the 1st floor, displays the main pedestals on which Judaism is built in its unique and universal aspects. From the biblical story and its effects on the cultures of the world, through the unique elements that include the Sabbath, the covenant and the Hebrew calendar.

“Hallelujah!”, The museum’s unique synagogue gallery, celebrates the life and culture that has grown and is growing in synagogues since then, and includes 21 models of restored synagogues from different periods and places. It is impossible not to wonder when looking at them, if as we visit distant lands and admire magnificent churches and mosques we would also boast in our synagogues if these were not destroyed. Today we are left mostly with small and modest synagogues in general, but they are fraught with cultural richness and an equally glorious history.

And another attraction, this time for the little ones: on the entrance floor, the children are invited to take off their shoes and go wild in the huge and colorful “Heroes Complex”, which is dedicated only to them, the little heroes. Just the way they like it – with spaces to run around in, touch screens, seating and creation areas, interactive games and lots of information waiting and inspiring. Because if you already run – then like Esther Roth Shakharov, and if you already play with dolls, clothes and accessories – then they will learn something along the way from Donna Karen and Albert Elbaz. And let’s agree that it would not hurt to play thinking games, if they are “inside the head” of Albert Einstein for example.

In general, one can walk around the museum for hours and look at the many original exhibits, behind each of which is a great story. Think of the original typewriter in which Isaac Bashevis Singer composed “The Slave”; The first printed edition of the “Glow Corrections”; The embroidered collar is dressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; A copy of the first edition of “The Incarnation” by Franz Kafka; The original engraving from the rare Nuremberg Chronicle; The robe “King Lear” worn by Shlomo Michaels at the Jewish Theater in Moscow; The wedding dress designed by Albert Elbaz and donated to the museum a few days before his death in April this year, and other original and exciting items.

The opening in the year of the Corona, one of the most difficult years known to the world of culture, is without a doubt the biggest challenge of all, “notes the project manager Madi Shavid.” .

The museum’s curator, Dr. Orit Shaham-Gover, concludes that “we have been looking forward to this day for ten years. It was an intellectual and emotional journey, encompassing almost every cultural, artistic and technological discipline. We are excited to present the story of the Jewish people as a whole, from the past to the present day. ”


Source: Maariv.co.il – תיירות by www.maariv.co.il.

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