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December 10, 1982 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-12-10

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26 Friday, December 10, 1982


Jerusalem's Shrine of the Book



World Zionist Press Service

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Shrine of the Book is the
second most popular single
site in Israel after
Jerusalem's Western Wall.
During 1981 more than
700,000 people from both Is-
rael and abroad visited the
home of the Dead Sea
Scrolls, which is part of the
Israel Museum complex in
At first glance such mas-
sive public interest, greater
than in the Knesset, seems
a mystery. After all, the
ragged pieces of parchment
contain only so much scrib-
ble in the eyes of most who
look at them. In fact it is the
story behind the scrolls that
captures of the imagination,

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The Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea
in particular the life style of tally Jewish, whether it
the Essenes, the unusual be the final victory of the
Jewish sect who composed Messiah, or the final
and kept the scrolls.
revolution of Marx.
Indeed, since the scrolls
The Essenes disappeared
were discovered by a Be- after 70 CE. They were bit-
douin boy, who in 1946 terly opposed to Roman rule
found seven manuscripts and although no official re-
concealed in isolated cord exists, the occupiers
cave overlooking the Dead presumably got the better of
Sea, more than 10,000 the eventual showdown.
books and articles have
Despite delving in every
been written on the subject. possible direction Broshi
Further searches in the has been unable to ascer-
area by archeologists have tain how many people actu-
brought to light an addi- ally belonged to the sect.
tional 700 scrolls.
"But ultimately the influ-
The Essenes them- ence that people can have,"
selves also attracted a he says, "bears no relation
great deal of attention to their numbers."
from their contem-
Broshi has found evi-
poraries. The most zeal- dence of an Essene Dias-
ous were men who re- pora, probably in Greece. In
sided in a place called all likelihood these people
Qumran, on the north- would have had the greatest
west shore of the Dead influence over the early
Sea, living a celibate Christian disciples. Nor
and monastic life. They were all Essenes celibate.
were totally untypical of Many of the less zealous
Jews and in being the lived in otherwise regular,
first-ever monks, their family-oriented com-
influence on the early munities.
Christians cannot be
The Shrinef the Book
also contains other
The Essenes lived during manuscripts of great hn-
the period of the Second portance. An expedition
Temple and the subsequent in 1960 led by Prof. Yigael
Roman occupation. They Yadin, whose father had
are recorded by Pliny, acquired the first scrolls,
Josephus and other histo- discovered 35 documents
rians of the time and Jesus hidden in a cave in the
mentioned them too. An- Judean Desert. These
other theological tenet of were written by a group
the Essenes that distin- of Jewish rebels fleeing
guished them from Roman oppression
mainstream Judaism was a around 135. Many are the
belief in pre-destination, records of a lady named
allowing no room for human Babata and they provide
free-will or choice.
an invaluable insight into
More than 200 of the 700 the life - style of the time.
scrolls contain texts from
Those wishing to catch a
the Old Testament. In fact glimpse of all these scrolls
almost everything is there have no•choice but to come
except the book of Esther. to Jerusalem. The parch-
According to Dr. Magen ment does not travel well
Broshi, curator of the and no scrolls have been
Shrine of the Book since its loaned since Expo '68 in
inception in 1965, this exc- Canada.
lusiori is no coincidence.
The architecture of the
"The levity of the book of Shrine of the Book has al-
Esther would not have ap- most attracted as much at- •
pealed to the Essenes," he tention as the scrolls them-
explains. "The banquets, selves. Designed by Ameri-
the drunkenness and can architects Frederick
Esther's flirtation with Kisler and Armond Bartos,
Ahasuerus would not have the structure won a gold
been to the sect's taste."
medal from the American
One of the most famous Architects Association.
scrolls tells of the war be-
But on its completion in
tween the children of light 1965 the aesthetic of recep-
and the children of dark- tion that the architecture of
ness. The book is something the Shrine of the Book re-
of a military manual, pre- ceived was not entirely rap-
paring the children of light turous. Some felt the design
for the final battle in which clashed with the Jerusalem
they will overcome evil, and landscape. But time has
good will reign in the world. made the building a part
Broshi points out that and parcel of the Jerusalem
this philosophy is typi- skyline.

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