Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Museum of Psalms

I was due to meet a friend for lunch downtown last Friday afternoon, and she called to tell me she was running a little late.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just see the sights right here. Even though I live in Jerusalem, my life is that of a regular working person, and I don’t get much time to see the gems that are in my own back yard. Well, here’s a chance.

So I headed up Rav Kook Street, little knowing what was awaiting me.

I know this old wooden door from years back, but this was the first time I was passing it with my camera at the ready:

Old wooden door on Rav Kook Street

Then, to the left, I saw the spacious, olive-tree-lined alleyway leading to Ticho House, and decided to explore.

What I saw there aroused my curiosity at first. A museum dedicated to the Psalms? I thought. It’s probably about how people have recited the Psalms for generations and how it brought them solace. Stuff like that. Very nice, but probably not very interesting.

Was I ever wrong. The place knocked my socks off.

This is the entrance to the courtyard in which the Museum of Psalms is located.

Entrance to Museum of Psalms

Viewers get their first taste of the incredible artwork that awaits them in the outer hall. (I lay down on the floor to get this picture. Although it was well worth the trouble, the picture doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.)

Museum entrance

The inner entrance:

The Museum of Psalms

Plaque at entrance to museum

Part of the text of the plaque reads:

The Paintings of Moshe Tzvi Berger
Depicting the verses from the Book of Psalms in the service of God, the Jewish people, the nations, and to all who do not live by bread alone, but who seek spiritual progress and enlightenment of the soul

Once you walk in, you find yourself in an old Jerusalem courtyard home. (The artist lives in the very same compound.) There are old wells outside, covered now for safety reasons, but one is covered with glass and you’ll see water inside if you look down. The home itself is one long room after another, spacious and airy, and filled with the most incredible paintings you can possibly imagine.

For reasons which I’m sure my half-dozen readers will understand, I didn’t take any pictures inside the museum. In fact, I don’t even want to try to describe them. Fortunately, the Museum of Psalms has its own website, where you can browse Moshe Tzvi Berger’s amazing artwork to your heart’s content.

When my friend arrived, we had a lovely lunch and then I took her to the museum. “You have to see this place,” I told her. “It’s incredible. You’re going to flip.”

She did.

So what are you still doing here? Go! Go!


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