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לראות את האור - תערוכה

Lighting the Way

in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

  • Date iconJune 7 2024
  • Curator: Ruth E. Jackson-Tal
  • Designer: Jonathan Canetti Greenshlag
          Associate designer: Taylor Helmer
  • Byron and Dorothy Gerson Temporary Exhibition Gallery, Archaeology Wing

Light banishes darkness and reveals what is hidden. Its dual nature, at once tangible and abstract, has earned it a significant place in religious belief, as attested by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim literary sources, iconography, and the way light is used in synagogues, churches, and mosques.

This exhibition deals with the significance of light for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as expressed by the lighting used in their houses of worship and other sacred buildings. The role of light in such structures is to create a holy atmosphere, to distinguish between parts of the structure, and to illuminate the physical and spiritual path of the believer. Light, cast by a wide variety of devices, symbolizes God’s presence in the holy space, revealing truth and justice and awakening feelings of hope, benevolence, and awe. The illumination of certain areas of the synagogue, church, and mosque emphasizes the structure’s focal points and directs the worshiper’s gaze toward them.

Along with the reading of scripture, prayer, religious rites, and the use of incense, the light of a sacred structure produces a multi-sensory emotional and spiritual experience for those who enter the holy space.


Synagogue at Horvat Rimmon
4th–6th century
Bronze, with epoxy reconstructions
Israel Antiquities Authority | 1979-1696
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Memorial lamp for the synagogue
Tétouan, Morocco, 1899
Glass, blown; silver, pierced and engraved
Inscription: "Memorial lamp of the Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Samuel Israel, may his memory (be a blessing for) the life of the world to come. May his soul be bound in the bond of life."
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem: Gift of the family of the Chief Rabbi Samuel Israel, “Le Grand de T.touan,” Morocco, through his grandsons, José and Haïm Israel (Salomon), Tel Aviv
Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Bowl decorated with lamp motifs
Beth She‘arim, 4th century
Glass, blown and engraved
Israel Antiquities Authority | 1941-41
Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Mosque lamp
Damascus, 20th century
Glass, blown; enamel
Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Glass lamp imitating a clay lamp
Akko, 1st century CE
Glass, blown
Israel Antiquities Authority | 1964-458
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Dichroic bowl lamp
Provenance unknown, 4th century
Glass, cast or blown and carved
Private collection
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner