The Oldest Hebrew Bible

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“Anu is the Hebrew word for we or us.”

That’s how Grace Rapkin explains the name of ANU—Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, which she serves as Marketing Manager.

The “we” that this museum serves includes all of us—all people of faith. And the crowd that was able to watch this podcast live was certainly made up of such faithful folks, at the recent National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville, TN.

Ms. Rapkin sat down with The Fellowship to talk about this very special museum in the Holy Land, and its many exhibits that teach about millennia of Jewish worship, tradition, and culture—including the Codex Sassoon, which many of you might have heard about recently as the oldest Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament that is known.

From this priceless example of God’s Word to items donated by the likes of Steven Spielberg and Bob Dylan, from art made in the wake of the October 7th attacks to an interactive exhibit that teaches Jewish recipes from across the globe, ANU: The Museum of the Jewish People shows us the influence that Judaism has had on the world, from Bible times to today.

Episode Notes:

ANU—Museum of the Jewish People has been telling the story of God’s children for more than 40 years. Conceived by the World Jewish Congress in 1959 as a center for Jewish education and culture. Opening in 1978 in Tel Aviv, ANU has become known as one of the most technologically advanced museums in the world.

The museum reopened in 2021 after a large expansion project. Its many exhibits delight those in the Holy Land, as well as those visiting the Jewish state from abroad. Its three floors and four wings tell the story of the Jewish people, from the days of the Bible to the present—showing how world Jewry not only influenced global society and culture, but how the Jewish people were in turn influenced by wherever they lived.

The first floor explores “The Foundations” on which Jewish faith has been built—such traditions and beliefs as the Sabbath, the covenant, the Jewish calendar, and the Bible.

The second floor shows “The Journey” that the Jewish people have taken through the millennia, looking at the exiles and migrations they experienced, the Jewish cultural centers that were built, and the rebirth that came about after the Holocaust.

The third floor—“The Mosaic”—takes a look at Jewish identity and culture in our present times, focusing on Jewish expressions of art, language, literature, and other contributions to humanity.

In the wake of the October 7th attacks, ANU has opened a new exhibition—“A Space of Anguish, Loss, Anger, Memory, and Sorrow”—art works by Israeli artists, some of them victims of the attacks or the ongoing war, that show how the people of the Holy Land have been affected, and are still affected, by the violence and hatred facing Israel and her people.

But the highlight of a visit to ANU is surely the Codex Sassoon, the oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible manuscript. Over 1,100 years old, the Codex Sassoon is truly one of the most important books in the world, and last year it made the news when it also became one of the most expensive. The museum’s board chair, Alfred H. Moses, purchased the Codex Sassoon for $38 million at Sotheby’s auction house… and promptly donated it to the museum’s collection. Now, the public can see this magnificent example of the foundations of our faith when they visit ANU—Museum of the Jewish people in Tel Aviv.

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