Second Gathering of the Global Forum of the National Library of
The Global Forum of the National Library of Israel has been established as an integral element of the transformative renewal process upon which the National Library has recently embarked. The Forum brings together leading thinkers and scholars from Israel and around the world in Jerusalem for a rare gathering of intellectual depth, historical knowledge, cultural sensitivity, love of the book and the written word. The mission of the National Library of Israel is to serve as a vibrant center for research, as well as cultural and intellectual creativity, expressing the essence of the Jewish people as a people of the book – a people for whom the most profound significance of "the Book" constitutes the core of its common identity.
We believe that the intellectual treasures and wisdom embodied by the National Library possess the power to inspire, even when confronting the most difficult issues on the contemporary agenda. Indeed, the discussions of the Second Gathering of the Global Forum will focus on the relationship between religious and secular as reflected in the core areas of our lives – the state, society and the individual, ethics, philosophy and human creativity. I believe that many conflicts in our world – military and social, cultural and ethnic – stem from the assumption that the sacred and the profane are foreign and hostile to one another. Yet the wisdom embodied in the National Library teaches us that the relationship between the holy and the profane are complex. They are intertwined with one another. They cross-pollinate each other.
The Library provides a meeting place like no other, where researchers who critically analyze the scriptures and traditionalists who attribute unreserved holiness to those texts encounter and interact with one another. The fruitful dialogue produced through these encounters, which take place in the reading rooms, public areas and even our modest café, present us with clear and inspiring evidence of the potential for collaboration between those holding allegedly conflicting world views. The dialogue between those who visit the National Library daily represents an authentic continuation of the ideas emanating from those treasures founds on our shelves where the works of Maimonides may be found next to those of Spinoza; the writings of Rabbi Nachman adjacent to those of Kafka.
The renewed Library on which we toil is not a museum. It is a living bridge connecting the wisdom of the ages to our world – present, past and future. We face enormous challenges as individuals living in the complex realities of the twenty-first century, which are marked by both primitivism and progress, both extremism and tolerance. The National Library of Israel and its Global Forum aim to make a modest, productive and practical contribution to the contemporary discourse.
I would be remiss to not include a sorrowful word about the passing of the Ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres, z"l. As a leader and a man of the book, Peres was a true friend of the National Library, recognizing the importance of its mission and even serving as Honorary Chairman of the Global Forum. May his memory be a blessing.
I welcome you to the Forum and it is my wish that you will find a place to listen and to be heard, and that the discussions heard in the corridors and Forum sessions will inspire others to seek knowledge and re-think contemporary issues and challenges.
David Blumberg, Chairman
The National Library of Israel