By holding an exhibition on Persian Jewry the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv (Bet Hatefutsot) is seeking to appeal to an audience beyond the typical white Ashkenazi male, The Jewish Week reports (with thanks: Kenneth):
In the center of a windowless Tel Aviv exhibition room stands an ornately handcrafted 1867 Torah case from western Tehran made of colored sheets of wood-coated metal. On a nearby wall is an equally detailed slice of contemporary Iranian Jewry history, two paired pieces envisioned through Photoshop by a 25-year-old in America.
First commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a Gracie Mansion celebration of Norooz, the Persian New Year, Josephine Mairzadeh’s intricately designed rendering of family legacy and fertility made its way this winter from Great Neck, L.I., to the palm tree-lined Beit Hatefusoth museum in northern Tel Aviv.
Together called “Five Generations of Reflection into the New Year,” Mairzadeh’s two pieces, subtitled “The Matriarchs” and “Esther’s Legacy,” are currently on view at the museum’s Iranian Jewish exhibition, “which runs through the end of April and is sponsored by the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.
The show, called “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iran and the Jews,” features more than 20 pieces from New York, particularly from Great Neck’s Mashadi community, whose synagogues collected over 100 pieces that the curators sifted through.
Some items of note from the Great Neck community include elaborate painted doors, dresses for child brides and dual Jewish and Muslim marriage contracts dated from 1885 in the city of Mashhad.
The exhibit is just one of many signs that a new wind has taken hold at the Beit Hatefusoth museum adjacent to Tel Aviv University’s sprawling campus. Beit Hatefusoth — known in English since its 1978 beginnings as the Diaspora Museum and now called the Museum of the Jewish People — is currently undergoing massive changes, to become more inclusive of members of the Jewish community beyond the typical Ashkenazi male, according to the museum’s CEO for the past year and a half, Avinoam Armoni.