The Jewish Journey: 4000 Years in 22 Objects from the Ashmolean Museum by Rebecca Abrams
The Jewish Journey is unique in three respects. First, it is a short, accessible, affordable and illustrated history of the Jewish people. Most books of this kind are heavy, unwieldy, expensive coffee-table books. Secondly, the book is absolutely unique in highlighting Jewish objects from the standing collection of a world-renowned public museum. Jewish history is more normally confined to dedicated Jewish museums. This book breaks new ground by showing Jewish history in its wider historical, social and cultural context, and presents objects that reflect on daily life over the centuries, e.g. family, marriage, trade and travel, rather than the much more common depictions of artefacts for sacred and religious use. Thirdly, the Jewish significance of these particular 22 objects has until now been overlooked. This book draws them together for the first time to tell their specifically Jewish story, highlighting both the distinctive features of Jewish experience and the long history of close interaction with other cultures and religions. The 22 objects include pottery, coins, jewellery, household artefacts, sacred items, musical instruments and paintings.Together they bring to life the experiences of the real men and women who owned, made and used them, from kings, courtiers and scholars to guerrilla fighters, musicians and market stall holders. Individually and collectively, the objects vividly document dark periods of persecution and forced migration, whilst highlighting the astonishing resilience and diversity of Jewish life, revealing centuries of two-way interaction with many other cultures and religions. Through the histories of each of the objects, the reader is guided on a double journey. One path leads through the galleries of the Ashmolean; the other accompanies the Jewish people across the centuries. The Jewish Journey brings to light for the first time the amazing Jewish treasures in the Ashmolean Museum, explaining their specifically Jewish significance in a direct, accessible style for the general reader.