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Ba’al Shem Tov exhibit to open at National Library in Jerusalem

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The entrance to the Jewish National and University Library, on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus in Jerusalem has been transformed into a real-life setting straight from an 18th-century Eastern European shtetl.


The reconstructions are part of a unique exhibition marking the 250th anniversary of the death of the Ba’al Shem Tov (Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer), the founder of hassidut, as well as 200 years since the death of his great-grandson, Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, founder of the Breslover Hassidic dynasty.

Besides the reconstructed synagogue, beit midrash (study hall), dining table and other contemporary artwork, the exhibition, which opens Monday, will display writings from the dawn of hassidut that are part of the National Library’s collection.

Displayed to the public for the first time is the copy of the last letter by Rabbi Nahman, which he wrote in Hebrew to his daughter Adil, three-and-a-half months before his death.

A hassidic-tale corner will be part of the display, and various screenings will expose visitors to the spiritual and physical landscape of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s world.

The exhibition opens Monday evening with an event featuring contemporary hassidic music and a lecture by Professor Moshe Idel on the beginning of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s legacy. It will run until October 1. Admission is free.

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