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World Premier - Light and Shadows




On December 30, 2010, the exhibition Light and Shadows: The Story of Iran and the Jews, sponsored by the Y & S Nazarian Family Foundation, will open at Beit Hatfutsot.  This exhibition is dedicated to Iranian Jewry, one of the earliest Jewish communities in the Diaspora. The exhibition will be displayed in two exhibition galleries and in the entrance lobby.  "Never before has this extraordinary chapter in the history of world Jewry been captured in an in-depth, three-dimensional exhibition format" said Hagai Segev, Chief Curator at Beit Hatfutsot and Curator of Light and Shadows.  "As the National Center for Jewish Communities in Israel and around the world, Beit Hatfutsot is honored to present one of the most intriguing and inspiring stories in Jewish history; the centuries-long legacy of Persian Jewry."

This first-of-its-kind exhibition unveils an extraordinary portrait of Iranian Jewry, focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition will present the historical, political, social, and cultural aspects of Jewish life in Iran, the community's interaction with its surroundings, as well as its ongoing quest to maintain Jewish heritage and tradition.




Jews have lived in Iran for over 2,700 years, including approximately 1,400 years under Islamic rule. The Jewish community is the oldest religious minority group in Iran. The political instabilities endured by the Iranian people throughout history have clearly affected the local Jewish community. The different cultures of the dynasties and nations that conquered Iran have shaped and enriched the local way of life. These cultures and influences are manifested in the community's daily conduct, its unique features, and material culture.

The exhibition will include reconstructions of the Jewish home and the synagogue. Other exhibits include illustrated manuscripts in the Judeo-Persian language, illuminated Scrolls of Esther, documents from the Cairo Geniza, illustrated marriage contracts, rugs and carpets, costumes, ritual articles, house wares, as well as paintings and photographs. The display will also include music and films relevant to the various topics around which the exhibition spans.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, educational and cultural activities as well as an academic, international conference entitled The Heritage of the Past and the Challenges of the Future, which will take place at Beit Hatfutsot, on Monday & Tuesday, January 3-4, 2011 in collaboration with the Center for Iranian Studies, Tel Aviv University.