President Shimon Peres Lays the Cornerstone for the New Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot
Beit Hatfutsot welcomed Israel’s President Shimon Peres for a special event to lay the cornerstone for the new Museum of the Jewish People. The museum is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation, and the laying of the cornerstone marked an important milestone in the process of its renewal.
Approximately 400 guests from Israel and abroad, including 100 students and young adults, arrived to mark the historic laying of the cornerstone for the new museum, scheduled to open in 2018. The evening was also an opportunity to thank the guest of honor, His Excellency President Shimon Peres, for his lifelong efforts and commitment in service of the Jewish People.
Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot, said, “Throughout his life President Peres has dedicated himself to the entire Jewish People. His remarkable story makes him the natural choice to lay the cornerstone for the new Museum, which will inspire and connect the Jewish People in Israel and around the world.”
“The laying of the cornerstone for the new museum is a unique opportunity to thank President Peres for his enormous contribution and his lifelong efforts for the Jewish People,” said Dan Tadmor, CEO of Beit Hatfutsot.
During his remarks at the event, President Peres said: “The Museum of the Jewish People brings together Jews from across the world, allowing us to gather together and celebrate our history and culture. I’m proud to support this iconic institution and its important future”.
President Peres was presented with a unique gift – a leather parchment displaying his family tree, specially created by the artist Ira Obolski. Obolski was able to draw upon research that Beit Hatfutsot had undertaken into President Peres’ family, with the assistance of the President’s daughter, Dr. Zvia Valdan.
The audience had the opportunity to enjoy a short film produced exclusively for this event, showcasing the President’s life story and his contribution to Jewish communities around the world. The evening’s program also included performances by a children’s choir from Holon, the renowned Israeli singer Harel Skaat and leading choreographer and dancer Ido Tadmor.
Guests also enjoyed a first glimpse of Beit Hatfutsot’s new core exhibit, which was beamed on to the outside walls of the museum. The new core exhibit of The Museum of the Jewish People will take visitors on a fascinating journey of Jewish life from biblical times until today, with an increased emphasis on contemporary Jewish life and modern expressions of Jewish identity. The museum will inspire a sense of belonging and identification with the Jewish people and enable any Jew to find his or her own personal narrative within the shared Jewish story.
Following the cornerstone event, the next milestone in the museum’s multi-stage renewal project will take place at end of 2014, with the launch of Beit Hatfutsot Online. This interactive tool will make the use of Beit Hatfutsot’s extensive research databases, accessible to any user, anytime, anywhere. President Peres was the first person to enjoy the use of this system, by creating and uploading his own family tree from his residence via his own computer.
By the winter of 2016, the public will also be able to enjoy the renovated Synagogue Gallery, displaying models of various synagogues from around the world through the use of immersive multimedia technology
Details regarding the artwork created by the artist Ira Obolsky:
An illustrated family tree, cut on parchment, size 75 X 50 cm.
The card is processed manually, a tradition preserved for 2000 years, produced uniquely in Israel, on skins of kosher animals only.
The work utilizes the “parchment cut” technique and illustrations in ink.
It incorporates Jewish symbols: Pomegranates (tree fruit), symbolizing the fertility of the Jewish people:
Pomegranate: One of the seven species mentioned in the bible, adorned with a crown and 613 seeds (according to the sages), corresponding to the number of mitzvoth (commandments).
The pomegranate fruit unites its different seeds under one peel, symbolizing the Jewish people who observe their traditions and customs despite multiple ethnic groups in Jerusalem (Illustrations on tree trunk):
Man creates his life, as a stonemason whose work is preserved for future generations.
The tree is supported by lions
Lion: King of the beasts, a symbol of power and glory, as well as a symbol of Jerusalem (and the sign under which Shimon Peres was born.
A winged lion: King not only on land, but also in the heavens.
The Soul Bird:
An image found in all persons, who desire to understand its meaning.