«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Nisan

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"I am in the West, but my heart is fully in the East... "these are the words of Yehuda ha - Levi, a poet, philosopher, doctor. He lived in the medieval Spain and during his entire life he was longing for the land of his forefathers.

For many centuries the Jews of galut were striving after the Holy Land, after Jerusalem, after the place in which the Temple used to stand.

The eastern walls of synagogues and houses of Jews in Eastern Europe were decorated with "mizrahs" ("mizrah" means "East' in Hebrew) - the pictures pointing out the direction towards Jerusalem, to the Temple, to the place a Jew should face and covet offering up prayers. Erets-Israel is the Land sacred for the Christians. The traditions of pilgrimage to Jerusalem have existed for a long time. Jerusalem is the third in significance sacred place after Mecca and Medina for the Muslims. Almost each of true followers of these religions was aspiring, in dreams or in reality, to travel to the ancient Land of Israel. But it is impossible to imagine a travel without a plan you should follow on your way, without a map. And people were writing maps. If we construct a bridge across the centuries, we may plunge into the atmosphere of ancient traveling.

The Kiev gallery "Tadzio" hosted the exhibition "Jerusalem on old maps" organized by the Minister-Adviser of the Israeli Embassy Maya Gal.

This is not the first successful event with the participation of the Embassy acquainting the Kievites with the history and culture of the country.

Each of the exhibited maps evokes interest and demands intent deepened attention. Beautiful graphics of these rolls is astounding. You experience an irresistible desire to admire the maps, subjects, which are, in general, for everyday use such as works of easel fine arts.

Naturally, the exhibits are of not very high quality, as it is quite clear that the original map of the VI century cannot be exhibited beyond the museum.

The exhibition presents the maps of both the country and Jerusalem, the city which great king David made his capital 3000 years ago. That was the residence place of the king and his suite - his court.

Jerusalem became the administrative center that ruled the country, the seat of the military headquarters. Jerusalem is the place David moved Noah's Ark to, the sacred object testifying to the unity of the people and God, the unity of the generations.

The sanctity of the Land of Israel is reflected both in the Jewish and Christian maps. But the visitors should be warned that in the majority of cases the maps are the product of a surprising flight of fantasy, imagination of the ancient cartographers. Many of them had never been to Erets-Israel. Their works were rather meant for the ideology, religion, for preaching purposes and were unlikely to be used as guidebooks for travelling. Many of them were charted as if considering the perspective of a "bird's flight".

The vertical perspective - the standard for topographical maps - was introduced in Jerusalem only in the XIX century. But, nonetheless, we, who live in the XXI century and who are armed with modern maps, see enormous historic and art value in those ancient maps.

The success of the exhibition is evident. Numerous visitors were keenly deciphering the names of towns, followed mysterious routes, tried to get closer to the geography, culture; history of the Land which has become sacred for a huge part of the Earth's population.


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org