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THE CHAIN OF GENERATIONS
After seven years of preparation, a new museological experience adjacent to the Western Wall has opened. Based on musical sculptures, light, smoke and glass, the project offers the visitor a spiritual experience different from that of any museum.
The project's main message – every one of us is a link in the chain of generations, following the path of time from the dawn of history, from the time of Abraham and into the future. Despite our differences, we all have a common background – a common history and heritage, both symbolized by the concept of Jerusalem.
The experience is built on two levels, a united creation sculptured in light, smoke, music and narrative.
The first level comprises the chain of names. This is a spiritual – symbolic level, in which the visitors take an allegorical journey, moving in single file over a narrow metal bridge leading them through seven halls, each of which represents a special period in the history of the Jewish people. The halls are similar to Roman milestones that mark the distance along the way. The Scenes:
"Our forefathers and the twelve tribes"
"A people in its homeland"
"Yearning for Zion"
"The memorial wall for IDF soldiers who fell in the battle for Jerusalem"
Each of the halls houses a creation formed by layers of glass, engraved with the names of people of that period. The halls are dark, and the visitor is engulfed by smoke and light. In the background, music suited to the subject plays, and a narrative helps to transfer the message.
Glass was chosen as the material for engraving the names due to its special qualities. As a substance, it is both ancient and modern, formed from single grains of sand solidified by heat and pressure.
A single sheet of glass is transparent, fragile and sensitive, but once several sheets are banded together it becomes a powerful, strong Monolithic block. The different glass creations in every chapter have one common denominator; they are all made of layers that are fused into a single entity. The beams of light, expressing spirituality, create a dialogue with each and every one of these glass sculptures.
The second level is the "Hall of Light" comprised of a chorographical and theatrical display of light beams that cause visitors to introspectively search their inner selves, inspiring a form of meditation. On a background of dancing light, encompassing the spectators seated in a dark, minimalist hall, the narrative of the story of Rabbi Israel Halevi, adapted from the original story by Moshe Amirav, is told. The audience is seated around a central focal point – "The Well of Light". The hall is divided by a black, semi-transparent sheet of cloth. Each member of the audience is able to see a vague, blurry image of his Companion from the other side of the group.
The seating arrangements incorporate the central message – we are all links in one chain, with a central focus point and roots that both embrace and forge us – our heritage, our history, the core of our existence as a people – Jerusalem as a concept and abstract symbol.
Stars twinkle above when, sporadically, light beams feed the "Well of Light" with rays of energy.
The narrator's image, at times visible and at times enveloped in the clouds of smoke, is projected on the black screen. This creates the illusion of the narrator floating in space, his body semi-translucent, allowing glimpses of fellow group members seated opposite. Finally, the meditation and pensive reflection reach their height – every individual and his concept of Jerusalem, every one of us – another link in the chain of generations.
After the show, the audience exits the hall, confronting, in all its awe and grandeur, the Western Wall itself. Work on the project started seven years ago. During this period,
fascinating archeological findings were discovered, such as the MIKVE from the Second Temple period. These were incorporated into the exhibition, forming part of the experience.
Inspiration for the project came from a story by Moshe Amirav, who participated as a paratrooper in the battle for Jerusalem in 1967.
The hero of the story, Rabbi Menahem Mendel, a simple Jew from Vilnius, whose highest aspirations, indeed his entire being, revolved around Jerusalem, the holy city. Even as he was led off to the furnaces of the Holocaust, Jerusalem was in is mind’s eye. Rabbi Mendel was murdered in the concentration camps, unable to realize his aspirations. A simple story, but here, at the Western Wall, it develops a lot of meaning and symbolism.
This is the story heard by the visitors at the last stage of the tour – in the Hall of Light, and it is this story that helps them experience and to assimilate the concept of You in the chain of generations.
Every one of us is a link in the chain of generations, a chain that
originated with Abraham and continued throughout the history of the Jewish people and will continue into the future . . .
This unique project was initiated by the Western Wall Heritage
Foundation and created by a team that included artists, artisans, and dedicated and experienced professionals.