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Temple

Mikdash and Memory

A Tale of Jewish Love and Longing

A Video Series with Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik

Visualizing the Mikdash: Two Divergent Memories

Dr. Jacob Wisse | Associate Professor of Art History, Stern College for Women

Two modern-day visual evocations of the Mikdash – one a monumental recreation of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans, the other an intimate portrait of a Jerusalem shochet in the act of slaughtering a chicken – convey dramatically different portraits of the character of the Temple and our memories of it.

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Visualizing the Mikdash: A Tombstone and the Temple

Dr. Steven Fine | Dean Pinkhos Churgin Professor of Jewish History and Director, YU Center for Israel Studies

In 2012, Pastor Carl Morgan of Woodland United Fellowship and the Woodland Museum of Biblical Archaeology in California sent Professor Steven Fine of Yeshiva University a photograph of an ancient tombstone. Professor Fine immediately recognized it as coming from biblical Zoar, on the Dead Sea. Dr. Fine and a group of YU students set out to decipher the Aramaic inscription painted on the stone. What they discovered was not only the story of the woman memorialized, but a lesson in how the Jewish people kept the memory of the Temple alive in their hearts and minds in the centuries following the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.

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Lecture 7: Pesach: 70 CE and 1948

Passover 70 CE was a disaster for the Jewish people. The holiday celebrating Jewish unity and peoplehood was marred by infighting and starvation, setting the stage for the Roman invasion of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple. In 1948, the Jews were presented with another threat to their internal unity. Would the lessons of the past inform the decisions of the future?

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Lecture 6: The Mystical Magnetism of the Ark of the Covenant 

Throughout the ages, Jews have been drawn to the Temple Mount. Whether it is to pray at the Western Wall or to be buried on the Mountain of Olives, the site has a magnetic pull that the Jewish people cannot seem to resist. But what exactly is pulling the Jews there?  What powerful force attracts Jews from all over the world to this one place?  

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Lecture 5: The Davidic Secret of the Temple

After conquering Jerusalem and creating a palace of his own, King David dreamed of crowning the mountaintop with a temple for God. Yet his request was rejected, and he was told that his son would be the one to make his dream a reality. Why was David, beloved by God, not permitted to build the temple, and what does this tell us about our relationship with the site?

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Lecture 4: The Sound of Silence: Inside the Sanctum Sanctorum

The central moment of the Avodah was the ketoret, the incense in the Holy of Holies. And yet, instead of breaking out into prayer, when the high priest entered the sanctum sanctorum, he stood speechless as the smoke rose. Why did he stand in absolute silence? Why did he not implore the almighty at this ineffable moment? Answering these questions will reveal how what seems to be an ancient event actually speaks profoundly to the world in which we live, especially in this trying year we have experienced.  

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Lecture 3: Isaac, the Akeidah, and Us

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Lecture 2: Three Soldiers at the Wall: The Secret of the Temple Mount

David Rubinger’s image of three soldiers standing at the Western Wall is the most enduring image in modern Jewish history. It also perfectly captures the unique nature of the site where the Temple was situated, and why that location continues to connect Jews to each other around the world.

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Lecture 1: The Temple vs. the Pantheon 

What if one of the biggest recent discoveries in the world of art could help explain the enduring Jewish relationship with the temple? In this lecture, we will see how an English collector’s acquisition of a lost French masterpiece that was painted in Rome actually teaches us about the way Jews remembered Jerusalem. 

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