History and Culture at Beit Hatfutsot

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Beit Hatfutsot Outside View

source: Talmoryair

I’ve had a friend from the US staying with us for the last week, and yesterday we went to Beit Hatfutsot (or The Museum of the Jewish People) in Tel Aviv.  She was told her husband was in a 35 year old photograph, and she desperately wanted to see it. We never did locate the picture, but we did have a great time.

Beit Hatfutsot Inside

source: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman

Beit Hatfutsot uses an enormous assortment photos, videos, paintings, and sculptures to explore the history and culture of Jews from all over the world. The exhibits are not in chronological order, which I would have preferred, but each section is very clearly presented in both English and Hebrew. There was never any doubt as to what we were viewing.

We didn’t see everything the museum had to offer since we were on a tight schedule, but I did spend a lot of time enjoying the exhibits on art and artifacts from everyday life. There were a couple of objects that really made history come alive for me.

Beit Hatfutsot Haggadah

source: Sodabottle

One was a replica of a centuries old haggadah which I believe was made from leather. Just looking at it made me realize, in a very visceral way, how many years the Passover tradition has been celebrated. It made me feel very connected to the generations of Jews that came before me.

Beit Hatfutsot Painting

source: Beit Hatfutsot

Another favorite was a painting of the Jewish slaves leaving Egypt. When I’ve heard the story of the exodus from Egypt in the past, it has always sounded like an army marching across the desert. In the painting however, it was depicted with groups talking, a mom nursing, people lagging behind, etc. More of a communal walk and less of a carefully orchestrated march. Again, an important part of history became more real for me.

So, how do finish up a very serious afternoon of history and culture? With food and music of course!

After leaving the museum we took a train to Jerusalem and shared a truly amazing meal at Cafe Ne’eman. It consisted primarily of delicious whole wheat bread, butter, omelets, israeli salad and tuna. Plus, there were tiny little cups of fruited tabouli salad, jelly, olives, all kinds of cheeses and both avocado and herbed tahina spreads for the bread. For dessert, chocolate and nut yogurt and two tiny rugelachs (pastries) were included. To top it off, the entire meal was elegantly presented on a three tiered serving piece. Only Israelis could come up with a feast like that!

When our sumptuous meal was completed, we took a bus to the city center, watched a couple of very talented street performers and then headed back home to sleep.

All in all, it was an exhausting, but completely memorable day.

Read More: Living In Israel or Home

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