An unprecedented exhibition devoted to the history, culture and contemporary life of Iranian Jewry will open at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv on Thursday, December 30.
This exhibition is the first to present a comprehensive, in-depth portrait of Iranian Jewry and introduce visitors to the fascinating world of an ancient community and its cultural, social, economic and political life.
The intriguing story unfolds over more than 2,700 years, beginning with the first Jews exiled from Jerusalem by the Babylonians and continuing to today, with most members of the community scattered throughout the world.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation. It is also generously supported by The David Berg Foundation, The Diamond Charity Foundation, The Global Mashadi Jewish Federation, The Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, The Maccabee Foundation as well as individual members of The Iranian Jewish community and other Jewish communities.
The exhibition includes archeological artifacts, many on public display for the first time, which reveal fascinating details pertaining to the ancient life of the Iranian Jewish community. Also featured are a wide range of stunning cultural artifacts, including ancient manuscripts, talismans, carpets and both secular and religious music. Additionally, the exhibition includes contemporary artworks by Iranian Jewish artists now residing in Israel,
Europe and the United States.
“We are deeply honored and excited that Beit Hatfutsot will be the first to expose the fascinating life of Persian Jewry, which to date has not received the full attention it deserves,” says Irina Nevzlin Kogan, president of The NADAV Foundation, Beit Hatfutsot’s major benefactor.
“This exhibition breaks ground on the new spirit of Beit Hatfutsot as ‘The Museum of the Jewish People,’ which will now reveal the stories of different communities around the world and show not only the historical aspect of the Jewish people, but also its current status. Our hope is that it will help to better understand, in broader terms, the meaning of Jewish peoplehood, and particularly help younger Jewish generations to feel as part of an extraordinary people, who are although dispersed around the world, still remain a thriving nation.”
According to Professor David Yeroushalmi, a member of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University and the exhibition's historical advisor, some 20,000 Jews still live in Iran
today. They are concentrated in Tehran and the two ancient communities of Isfahan and Shiraz, and maintain a strong connection with Judaism and the Iranian Jewish community's unique cultural legacy.
"The portrayal of this unique community has been a fascinating challenge,” exhibition curator Hagai Segev notes. “The community's history is told through an assemblage of authentic objects and images that attest to the rich life of the Iranian Jewish community: a life marked by moments of great cultural achievement followed by periods of great difficulty, persecution and oppression."
An international conference, "The Legacy of the Past and the Challenges of the Future," will take place in conjunction with the exhibition, in collaboration with the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. The conference will center on the artistic and cultural aspects of the objects on display, as well as on major international political and military concerns related to contemporary Iran.
The conference will take place at Beit Hatfutsost on Monday and Tuesday, January 3-4.
Light and Shadows: The Story of Iran and the Jews
Beit Hatfutsot, December 31, 2010 - April 30, 2011.
Chief Curator: Hagai Segev
Exhibition design and installation: Design Mill