Monday, July 04, 2005

Sad story of Bet Hatefutzot

The Jerusalem Post runs this story about the latest efforts to revive or save Bet Hatefutzot. [One interesting dimension of the story is that it is another example of the rapid emergence of former-FSU Jewish millionaires into prominent positions in Jewish public life.]
When Bet Hatefutzot was opened (my memory tells me 1970's?) it was a hugely popular, innovative and impressive exhibition. (Strictly speaking, it was never a 'Museum', as it contained no genuine artefacts.) The presentation and - at that time - the technology was superb, and as a 'museum' it had very wide international publicity. Yes, it was open to criticism (principally that it stopped at 1948), but it was way ahead of anything else even by international standards. Since then, it fell into decline - quite why, I'm not sure, but I think that the two intifadas and the massive drop in tourism hit it very hard. At the same time, the lack of a sponsoring body that could effectively fund it, and the cutbacks in the Israeli educational system ( = fewer visits by Israeli school kids) all spelt decline. The technology - based on slide projectors (the background noise of hundreds of projectors clicking away was one of the endearing features of the place) - became obsolete, and there were no funds to update it. (BTW - it has a great website )

So -- I wish the new patron every success. Bet Hatefutzot deserves a radical update. It has a highly important function in the Jewish-Israeli world, and it would be a shame if it faded away.


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