Monday, May 22, 2006


We are in a wireless-equipped guest house on campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Just had dinner at home with our friends Baruch and Natasha, who spent a semester at Michigan last year. I enjoyed Natasha's real Russian Borscht, which Lenny declined on the basis of beets. We continue to discuss the extreme statements of A.B.Yehoshua about the inauthenticity of Jewish life other than in Israel.

Jerusalem is unbelievably beautiful: very steep hills with all-cream stone buildings. Some genius in city planning outlawed all other forms of building materials. I went to the Israel Museum which is also very wonderful. At the Shrine of the Book, besides the usual Dead Sea Scrolls, they have the Alleppo Codex, a manuscript of the Bible written in the 10th C and still considered the most authoritive of sources. Unfortunately in anti-Jewish riots in 1948 in Alleppo, Syria, the synagogue that had housed it for centuries was destroyed and about half the pages disappeared. Other related artifacts were also in the exhibit.

The museum itself is very rich in art, including archaeology from the ancient Middle East, expecially here, and a wide variety of other things: Buddhist, Impressionist, ultra-modern Japanese, Jewish ethnology, and more. They are about to reconstruct one of the oldest synagogues from the Americas, which is being transported from Surinam (north of Brazil, site of a 17th C. Jewish settlement). They have had the synagogue transported from Cochin, India, for a long time.

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