Trip to the Diaspora Museum

February 16, 2010

Today I traveled with the ulpan to the Jewish Diaspora Museum on the campus of  Tel Aviv University.  I was excited for this trip because I had never been there before, and I am very interested in learning about Jews all around the world; I read the Jewish Virtual Library for fun!  We started off the day by talking with our guide about what our Jewish identity means, and then we made our way through the various exhibits, from language, to culture, to architecture of synagogues.  I enjoyed hearing stories about Jewish communities such as in Prague’s, “Old-New synagogue,” where a golem is said to still inhabit the attic.  I also saw a model of a synagogue in Pennsylvania designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which I thought kind of resembled the Sydney Opera house.

I was fascinated to find out about the Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng, thought to possibly be one of the lost Jewish tribes, who just in the past few years have had members travel to Israel to do an ulpan in the north of Israel to learn Hebrew.  Over 1000 years ago Jews who were possibly Persian or Iraqi traders, moved to China and practiced Judaism, but over time assimilated.  There are similar cases in South America, but I was particularly surprised to find out that Jews have been living in Curacao for a long time- the oldest synagogue still active in the Americas is there, and was built in 1651.  Sand covers the floors of the synagogue; there are a couple of theories as to why this is:  as a reminder of Jews’ time in the desert, or as a reminder of the sand Jews spread on the floor to muffle the sound of footsteps in their secret prayer rooms.

I definitely want to visit the museum again; there was so many exhibits I didn’t get to explore.  Also, I would like to visit the Israel Museum in Jerusalem before I return to the United States.

In other news, on the Kibbutz Program Center website, I am in a bunch of the photos posted in the Tzuba page.   If anyone feels like learning more about Kibbutz programs, the website is a good place to start.


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