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My Jewish Childhood - Paris 2015 Musee d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme
Saturday, 04 July 2015 14:23

Of course, the moment I saw the word magic in the title of the latest exhibit at the Jewish Museum in the Marais, I was hooked. When I saw the Angels and Demons in the Jewish Tradition, I had to get there.

My first week was spent in a master poetry workshop, seven intense days. After a short breather, I headed past the Pompidou to the Museum. I love the Marais area, and have included it in more than one poem.

When I arrived at the Museum, I had received a text that a friend of a friend was also there with two of her friends, so we met up. After descriptions of what each of us looked like, we did manage to find each other. After that initial meeting, we all but one, spent much time together, but that is another story.

The exhibit included more than 300 works and documents, from ancient Near East, the Roman Empire, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Maghreb and the Ashkenazi world, from the Middle Ages to today.

We have all heard of the Evil Eye, and have heard of various ways to ward it off. Today, one can purchase various amulets, necklaces, pendants, incantation bowls and much more.

I wear an amulet which is in the form of a hand with various signs in nature, words in Hebrew on the front and in the back. The origin of this for me, was a gift from my friend, Lee, who bought it in French Martinique from an Israeli and I have worn it for well over 30 years. Does it ward off evil spirits? I will use an expression of my mother's, "It could have been worse."

How does one control demons? Well, I have heard that traditional Judaism considers that G0d reigns over a world filled with numerous visible and invisible and powerful beings, particularly angels, demons and the dead. There are various texts that deal with this. One term is, "Practical Kabbalah." I was surprised at the place of magic has had and still has in Jewish culture.

The exhibit was divided up into different areas, the first one being the protection of the living beings. There is jewelry with decoration. Also seen were figurative scenes on paper of Mother and child.Here I see the name Lilith and I remember the name associated with the killing of babies, and how to thwart this, especially at the time of circumcision.

Another exhibit focused on protecting one's home. Well, I know that one. I have a mezuzah on my doorframe, to prevent the entering of demons.

I realize that I need to do more research to understand the rest of the exhibit, so I will leave you here and return in a week or so with more information.

In the meantime, thanks for reading my Jewish Childhood Blog.