Doing the stay at home mom thing has been great, but there are definitely times that I feel the need to get out and have a change of scenery and some intellectual conversation. Yesterday we headed up the the Museum of the Diaspora at Tel Aviv University. My mom had asked me to do some family research, and I was hoping that the museum might have some leads. It didn't help much, we have a pretty thorough family tree already, but it was still interesting.
The museum is organized by "gates". The beginning talks about the history of Judaism, the basic tenets of the faith and daily life. If someone has no background in Judaism this would be interesting, but we pretty much walked right through it. The upper levels were better done. There were sections on every Jewish community around the world, with information on how they were created, different customs they followed, how they interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors and if they are still in existence today. Since Yehi and I come from such different backgrounds, it was interesting to see the countries that our grandparents came from compared to each other.
There was also a whole floor dedicated to replicas of famous synagogues from around the world. It really was fascinating to see how the local cultures effect the design of the building, but how the basic requirements are all the same. They have representations from all over Europe, north Africa, Asia and the state. Its also sobering to see the synagogues from the 1300's in comparison to the ones from the states, which are under 100 years old.
If one is curious about their heritage, this would be a good starting place, to learn about the different Jewish communities, their heritage and changes. There is also a section on the first wave of Aliyah, and the makeup of cultures in Israel in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. Worth a visit. For us it is back to looking for news ways to do family genealogy research.