De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam Opens Judaism. A World of Stories

The De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam presents Judaism. A World of Stories an exhibition on view 17 December 2011 – 15 April 2012.

With more than five hundred objects on display, this exhibition will tell the fascinating story of three thousand years of Jewish religion, culture, art and history, the chronicle of a world religion that takes diverse international forms but has always held onto its identity. The exhibits will come from internationally renowned museums and private collections, and most of them will be on display in the Netherlands for the first time. The absolute highlights will include a first-century Dead Sea Scroll from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (with reservation), the oldest complete Torah scroll, originally from Erfurt and now at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, valuable manuscripts, a painting by Chagall from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Alephbet Tapestry by the contemporary Russian-American artist Grisha Bruskin.

Grisha Bruskin The Alephbet Tapestry, 2004-2006, Artist Collection, New York

Judaism is the most ancient monotheistic religion. Over the ages, it has spread around the globe. Whenever Jews arrived in a new place, they would integrate into society without giving up their identity. Judaism therefore takes many different outward forms, but the core of the religion is the same all over the world.

Since the earliest days of Judaism, there have been Jewish stories. Through the centuries, tales, parables, legends, and songs helped to keep the tradition alive and in touch with the times. Like any other religion, Judaism tries to answer questions about life’s origins, significance, and purpose. There is more than we imagine in heaven and earth, but what, exactly? What secrets lie hidden within Creation? What is the meaning of life?
The exhibition will shed light on the main elements of Judaism. At the heart of the religion is the Book: the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. Text study is central to Jewish religious life and forms the foundation of many stories, holidays, and precepts. Other themes will include sacred sites, the abstract God, days of celebration and commemoration, the life cycle, daily life and history. The aim is to provide new insight into the many facets of Judaism.

Each exhibit, whether a manuscript, a ceremonial object, a painting, or a model, will be presented as a rare and precious jewel. The message of the exhibition will be underlined by a documentary and a series of filmed interviews with Jews around the world – liberal and orthodox, famous and unknown – giving visitors a vivid impression of the enormous diversity within Jewish religious experience.

Judaism: A World of Stories is part of a series of exhibitions at De Nieuwe Kerk on the cultural history of world religions. While the Jewish Historical Museum focuses primarily on Jewish culture, religion, and history in the Netherlands, De Nieuwe Kerk will use this special exhibition to showcase Judaism’s global diversity, with the building as a spiritual site.

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