Text Forest


De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam (NL)

Like every religion, Judaism tries to answer questions about the origin, meaning and purpose of life. The Book, the Tenach, or the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is for Jewish people the guide in studying these topics. Studying its texts is a central part of Jewish life and all Jewish rituals can be traced back to the Book. To emphasize the significance of these texts, De Nieuwe Kerk has been transformed into a landscape of Jewish religious texts. Roaming through this ‘forest’ of texts, the visitor discovers the meaning of Jewish cultural and religious life through objects and stories.

Amsterdam (NL)
De Nieuwe Kerk
1700 m2
Concept, spatial and graphic design
Jewish Historical Museum and De Nieuwe Kerk
Iris vormgeving
Lighting design
Webcam films
Museum Studio’s
Graphic print
Erkamp Reclame, Riwi ColloType
Vertical Vision
Special international loans

Because of the Jewish community’s global dispersion, the variety in the appearance of religious objects is great. The exhibition brings these different objects together by which an interesting comparison can emerge. The 500 loans are distracted from internationally renowned museums and (private) collections. Most of them have never been exhibited the Netherlands before. Some of the highlights include a Dead Sea scroll from the first century BC from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and The Alefbet Tapestry, by the contemporary Russian-American artist Grisha Bruskin.

De Nieuwe Kerk

De Nieuwe Kerk as a spiritual place is full of symbolism. This symbolism has directed the layout of the exhibition, with as a result that the church and the story of Judaism enhance each other’s significance. The objects that are related to the Book, for instance, have found a place in the churches most sacred area: the presbytery. In the more secular parts of the church – the nave and the aisles – the story about Jewish daily life is explored. The stories focus on life’s key moments, such as birth, marriage and death. Various thematic pavilions allow the visitor to step into the world of Jewish religious celebrations, such as Yom Kippur, Sabat, Hanukkah and Purim. In the completey decorated pavilions, the visitor can also meet Jews from across the world. In filmed portraits they talk about the role Judaism plays in their daily life and thus display the enormous diversity within the experience of the Jewish religion.

The exhibition Jodendom. Een wereld vol verhalen is presented in De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam in collaboration with the Jewish Historic Museum. The exhibition is part of a series of exhibitions in De Nieuwe Kerk on global religions from a cultural-historical perspective. Where the Jewish Historic Museum is mainly focused on Jewish culture, religion and history in the Netherlands, with this exhibition De Nieuwe Kerk focuses on global diversity, with its building as spiritual location.