‘Beit Hatfutsot’ Tel-Aviv: An Exhibition on Jewish Humor
Updated: May 6
I was invited to the lovely Jewish Museum ‘Beit Hatfutsot’ that is located within the Tel-Aviv University Campus. The new exhibition is called “Let There Be Laughter” and it features Jewish humor from around the world. The exhibit opened this March and is expected to run at least till the end of the year. Credits go to Chief Curator: Dr. Orit Shaham Gover; Curators: Asaf Galay and Michal Houminer.
Address: Rehov Klausner 15, Matiyahu Gate #2 | Tel Aviv University Campus, Tel Aviv 6139202, Israel
‘Let There Be Laughter’ explores the genius of Jewish humor, its roots in folklore and its journey to modern humor, teasing out its nuances across English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, German, French, Russian, Spanish and more. The exhibit is spread over two wings spanning the greats of Jewish comedy from Hershele to Woody Allen, from Jerry Seinfeld to the wise men of Chelm as interpreted by Dzigan and Shumacher, from the Marx Brothers to Lenny Bruce, from “Megokha’’ (a Sephardic folklore character) to Sarah Silverman and Gad Elmaleh, France’s greatest comedian. Each are presented in an appropriate setting. The exhibit takes you through a Yiddishe Mama’s kitchen to Vaudville to Seinfeld’s living room.
The museum has gathered a collection of joke books, comic strips, newspapers, posters and personal objects that belonged to Judaism’s greatest comedians, but no less importantly has utilized new media to its maximum. There are several screens throughout the exhibit presenting reruns of the best TV shows. I especially enjoyed a room designed as a standup theater screening an original film, “The Standups,” featuring famous Israeli standup artists sharing their childhood stories. Visitors sit in the theater and laugh as if they were in a live performance. It’s hilarious! Since the room was dark, I’ve collaged a few other photos related to Israeli comedy.
Also, the kids in the museum (and I) loved some of the interactive features. The best was a machine that takes a photo of your face, splits it into three sections and you can then mix them with other photo sections. How do you like my new face?
Speaking of children, the museum currently has another changing exhibition called “Heroes – The Groundbreaking of the Jewish People” for children aged 6-12 that presents superheroes and heroines related to the Jewish culture through animation films, games and a variety of technological challenges.
Also, the museum features a permanent synagogue exhibition entitled “Hallelujah” presenting 21 models of synagogues from Jewish communities around the world as well as ceremonial objects and video art exhibits designed to deepen our understanding of the cultural identity of each community and Jews as a whole. I took a peek at it before going.
Yada yada yada,
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