The Israel Museum Features the Recovered Manuscripts of Two Middle Eastern Space Explorers, One Modern and One Mythical

Oct. 11 2019

On display through November at the Israel Museum, the exhibit Through Time and Space juxtaposes the outer-space diary of Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died in the 2003 Columbia disaster, with the oldest known text of the book of Enoch, a cosmological travelogue of a very different kind. Both manuscripts have dramatic stories of discovery and were reconstructed through painstaking work. Fragments of Ramon’s diary literally fell from the sky and were found in Florida; fragments of the book of Enoch, until then known only in translation, were collected from among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Reviewing the exhibit, Shai Secunda praises the diary’s “unadorned yet eloquent, almost literary” Hebrew, and describes the book of Enoch, one of several ancient works that take as their hero a character who receives a mere four verses in the fifth chapter of Genesis:

In the 3rd century BCE, Aramaic writings began to circulate that narrated the visions and teachings of Enoch who, although born of woman, had a place among God’s heavenly entourage and was privy to special knowledge, including the complex workings of the solar calendar. According to these texts, Enoch embarked on a number of heavenly journeys.

[In one such work], Enoch encounters a “wall built of hailstones; and tongues of fire were encircled them all around,” and then proceeds into a series of heavenly palaces, where he takes note of curious architectural features like snowy flooring and “a ceiling like shooting stars and lightning flashes.” [Then] he is treated to astounding sights, including “the place of the luminaries, and the treasuries of the stars and of the thunders, and the depths of the ether.” He sees heaven and hell, the mountain of the dead, and a gurgling paradise that recalls the Jordan River tributary where his interstellar journey began.

The Enochic writings present [their] hero as probing the cosmos in the service of humankind, not entirely unlike an astronaut testing scientific hypotheses in space for the people on earth below.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: ancient Judaism, Dead Sea Scrolls, Ilan Ramon, Jewish museums, Space exploration

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media