Jerusalem Destruction and Return

A fascinating new exhibit has opened

at the Bible Lands Museum (BLMJ)

in Jerusalem, Israel, called

image sign Bible Lands Museum

 “By the Rivers of Babylon” or Al Naharot Bavel.

Though located across from the Israel Museum and near the Knesset,

image Museum

I had not been inside the BLMJ for a few years.

The new exhibit starts with the story of the siege of Jerusalem

found in the Bible

cuneifrom tablet

and  recorded on this ancient stone tablet.

image BLMJ video

This video begins with a warning

that there are indeed sad parts to the story.

image destruction first temple

 The end of Jewish kings and life in Jerusalem,

end of first temple

 and the end of the First Temple in 589 BCE.

image broken pottery

Destruction so complete,

ancient jug

that the intense heat of the burning of Jerusalem

 deformed this earthen storage jar.

 The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia,

image return to Zion

and there on the rivers of Babylon told their story,

for generation after generation.

Many Jews returned to Zion with the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah,

but many wealthy families remained.

Now 2500 years later,

image ancient writing

these small cuneiform tablets finally tell us their story.

Though they look more like breakfast cereal or doggie biscuits,

these are well-preserved ancient business records of rentals, loans and taxes,

that parallel the names, places and dates of Biblical stories.

Over the centuries, Babylon became Iraq,

 where descendants of those exiled Jews lived until 1950-1952,

when their communities were forced to leave for their safety.

For the first time in over two millennia

there are no Jews in exile in Babylon,

as they have returned to Zion.

Israeli flags

As some try to rewrite history with “narratives,”

here are real records,

written in stone,

found and shown to public for first time

in this exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum.

In Jerusalem, Tu BiShevat Traditional and New

Spring-like weather

warmed the Jerusalem, Israel, streets this week.

birds on minaret

Birds stopped to rest on their migrations.

almond flowers

The almond blossoms did indeed burst out,

white roses

and roses opened.

Jerusalem Israel gan Sacher park

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was the spot for school outings.

People could be found in the sunshine,

two men exercising in Gan Sacher on nice day

 upside down

Muslim man at prayer

and bowing down.

image girl taking photo in garden behind King David Hotel

It was perfect weather for a photo walk

new light bulb in old neighborhood of Yemin Moshe

to find the traditional mixed with new.

All perfect for Tu Bishevat,

the 15th day of Hebrew month of Shevat,

the Jewish New Year for agriculture,

the birthday of trees.

image fruit basket

At Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s residence,

the holiday fruit baskets overflowed,

with special Israeli treats.

Rivlin host seder

A seder hosted by President and First Lady Rivlin

 was set for students and farmers to celebrate.

two men taking selfie at Bat Hanasi

Early arrivals had time for a selfie.

man looking like Ray Charles

No, Stevie Wonder did not drop by to entertain,

but there were Hebrew songs by Israeli singers.

This photo was taken last month while waiting for

John Baird to arrive on his official visit.

US Senators led by John McCain were to come in the afternoon.

US flags were ready and we, well, just had fun doing this.

Even Shimon Peres was back at Beit Hanasi,

not for a Tu Bishevat seder,

image new bust of Shimon Peres in Presidential gardens

but his likeness is now on display in the gardens

image Israel president house garden

along with the other former Israeli presidents.

image man with hat over face

At least one of the men in this small old cemetery in town

did not want his photo taken,

man making sushi in cafe window

and it was sushi week at cafe in Mamilla Mall.

So while we were watching the snow scenes in US,

all this and more

was happening on the Jerusalem, Israel, streets.

Tu BShvat Beit Hanasi 014mc

Hope you enjoyed Tu BiShevat too.

Israel National Library Reveals Hidden Treasures

The National Library of Israel is located on the

Hebrew University Givat Ram campus,

Israel National Library

but how many have been inside,

gone up the stairs,

stained glass windows in Israel National Kibrary

 and seen its magnificent stained glass windows?

Until recently only a small select group of scholars,

 as few as 100 per year.

Last year, however, the number of visitors was up to 30,000.

inside National Library

How many went behind these closed doors?

On a recent press tour of the library, in the restoration room,

old paper needing repait

we saw an old page of text,

material to fix old books

and the materials used to repair delicate treasures,

image very old book in National Library

and old volumes from the past.

image digital screen with researcher reading

In the digital lab, modern technology is used to store

and analyze volume after volume.

We saw a few of the oldest hidden treasures:

very old illustrated megilah

this Megillat Esther, from 18th century Amsterdam;

very old text

Passover haggadah, 15th century Spain;

genizia item at National Library of IIsrael

a letter from the Afghan geniza, 11-12th century Persia;

letter by Martin Buber

Martin Buber’s original draft of “Ich und Du” “I and Thou;”

letter by Isaac Newton in Israel Library

a manuscript written by Isaac Newton;

image ancient manuscript

and this Kufic Quran from the 9th century.

While these invaluable treasures are locked up,

image people using library computers

the digital music room is open to the public and used daily.

The National Library is to have a new home,

where the public will be welcomed for free,

and the hidden treasures are to be displayed.

sign on site of new National Library of Israel

The location

New Israel National Library what will it look like

for the new building is not far away.

land where Israel National Library is to be built

It is to be across from the Knesset,

near the Israel Museum and Bloomfield Science Museum.

Construction will begin next year

on this site that was cleared of huge trees

which were replanted near the Jerusalem Zoo.

international book fair sign in Hebrew

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem International Book Fair 

is to be held from February 8- 12,

Books, books, and more books and more…

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

UN may close for a snow day, but

image for Holocaust Remembrance

 flames are on government buildings in Jerusalem, Israel,

and many remember every day.