Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Celebrating King David

Celebrating King David

by Avi Tuchmayer
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( A rich mix of Jerusalemites came out on a brisk Jerusalem night in early March to celebrate the city's newest museum: The King David Museum and Genealogy Center.

Located in the heart of the Old City, the museum is a celebration of the most celebrated king in Jewish history, the author of the Book of Psalms and a major subject of the biblical Book of Samuel. The museum tracks the unbroken Jewish connection to the city Jerusalem, that was first conquered and made the capital of Israel by King David.

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The permanent exhibition features artifacts from the first and second temple periods including earthenware, ceramics, coins, arrowheads, and more. There is also a section dedicated to printed matter about King David and the Temple Mount, featuring the first known printed book of Psalms, published in 1511, and a swath of original printings that date from 1696 to modern times. Another section of the museum features a series of jarred spices. Mixed together in the correct proportions, the spices were combined to create the incense that was offered daily in the Holy Temple.

Family Research

In addition to the museum, the King David Genealogy Center features an impressive display of family trees reaching back through nearly 3,000 years of Jewish history. Direct descendants of King David include Rashi, the eleventh-century scholar whose commentaries on the Bible and Talmud revolutionized the study of both disciplines, as well as the Ba'al Shem Tov, the eighteenth century founder of Hassidism. There are also computers available for visitors to trace their ancestry for possible links to the Davidic family tree, as well as several staff genealogists to help interested parties begin their research.

For Susan Roth, the museum founder and president, the new museum represents a natural culmination of her efforts in Israel for nearly 15 years. In 1995, when the Rabin/Peres government threatened to cede control of Rachel's Tomb, Roth organized buses to bring hundreds of thousands of people to pray at the holy site. The effort eventually bore fruit: Rachel's Tomb was included on the Israeli side of the border fence. Though the tomb now resembles a military fortress with tall, thick concrete barriers protecting devotees from the nearby Arab population, the site is open 24 hours a day and hosts a weekly religious Saturday night celebration called a melave malka.

Reaction to Oslo War

Roth says the idea for a King David museum germinated in 2000, at the beginning of the Oslo War, when Arab attacks on Jews throughout the Land of Israel became an almost daily occurrence. At that time she published a Golden Book of Psalms, and she began receiving requests for personalized books and family trees. She says the idea developed and gained speed quickly.

"I realized that no one had ever lifted as much as a little finger to outline the history of the King David Dynasty," she told Arutz 7. "In 3,000 years, no one had ever written a Torah scroll in honor of King David, and for many people, the popular song David, Melech Yisrael (David, King of Israel) was all they knew about him.

"In 2006, we founded the Davidic Dynasty organization and sponsored the first Torah scroll to honor King David, and began making plans to open a museum a stone's throw from the Temple Mount, which King David bought for 50 pieces of gold and prepared for his son, King Solomon, to build the Temple."

Visitors to the museum are immediately transported to Davidic times, with tour guides dressed in traditional Temple-era clothing and mannequins on display to show the biblically-mandated garments of the High Priest and assistant priests.

Quiet Revolution

Museum officials say the center will help revolutionize more than the way Jews and Israelis think about King David. They hope it will inspire visitors to consider their relationships not only to King David, but to Judaism itself.

"The King David Dynasty has a special role in helping the Jewish nation understand they are not just Israelis," says Roth. "They are Jews. And to understand what king David wanted: First of all, to unite, to be one nation."

Museum Curator Yisrael Cohen takes the comments one step further, saying modern Jews and Israelis have one primary lesson to learn from King David.

"King David was the first king to unite the Jewish people, to bring them from tribes into a nation. He became a leader, one of undisputed leaders of the Jewish people, and his legacy lives on until today. My greatest hope is for us to produce a king like King David today," he said.

The King David Museum and Genealogy Center is located at 19 Tiferet Yisrael Street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Opening Hours are Sunday- Thursday, 9 am – 9pm, Friday 9 am – 1pm. For more information, please call. (02) 628-1502

Perhaps Prince William, scion of King David, will grace the place with an official visit and tour to highlight the reciprocal relationship between the House of David and the House of God in Jerusalem, and call upon the British-Israelites and Jews to repent and return, setting an example for others to follow, so help him God.

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