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Noah's Ark: A Refuge Amidst Devastation
What's happening at the Biblical Museum of Natural History
During this time of national trauma, everyone is figuring out ways to help, based both on national need and on individual ability. Current Home Front restrictions for cultural institutions specify that no more than 50 people may gather at a time. This means that most museums and zoos are unable to open, but precisely because the Biblical Museum of Natural History is on the smaller side, there are things we are uniquely poised to do to provide some comfort. While some of our staff are making the ultimate contribution by being called up to serve, and many have family members who have been called up, we have nevertheless managed to open on a very limited scale. Through tours and petting hours for children, we are providing a haven for families who desperately need a break. A family from Sderot, pictured below, visited last week and shared how much they appreciated the opportunity to get out and relax after the horrible events of recent days.
We are also putting together special packages to distribute to children from families deeply affected by the conflict, many of whom have relocated to the Beit Shemesh region. The packages include soft stuffed animals for use as therapeutic toys, activity books and the like. You may donate online to support this initiative.
This week’s Torah reading is parashat Noach, and the story of Noah’s Ark is, of course, the subject of our inspirational new “Art of the Ark” exhibit, dedicated in memory of Anne Samson, which features over 100 artistic representations of Noah’s Ark from around the world. Nothing else in the Torah comes close to the Ark in terms of the extent of artistic representations. But why? What is it about Noah’s Ark which makes it such a popular topic for art?
In part this is because Noah’s Ark is a superb vehicle with which to present the incredible diversity of the animal kingdom, which is enhanced by concentrating all the animals in one place. But in addition, the idea of all these animals living harmoniously together on a boat, being saved and looked after by a good person, is heartwarming. Predators and prey alike all live together on the ark, united with common goodwill. In this vein, one of our model arks shows the animals actually working together to build the ark, with elephants and rhinos carrying lumber, beavers gnawing the wood into shape, and horses pulling the winch to haul the planks into position. It is precisely during times of hardship, when we seek refuge, that we learn how to better work together.
With this in mind, we will be hosting a special online event this week for Parashat Noah. I will be giving an in-depth Zoom tour of our “Art of the Arks” exhibit. The program will take place this Wednesday, October 18th:
10 AM - Pacific Time
1 PM - Eastern Time
8 PM - Israel Time
The cost is $5/20 NIS. You can sign up at this link.
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