Global Forum Chairpersons
The renovation of the National Library in Jerusalem is perhaps the most exciting and consequential project in Jewish civilization in our time. This remarkable institution of learning, this palace of verbal and visual treasures, housed in Jerusalem, is the library not only of a state but also of a people, a people widely diverse and dispersed but also united in its need to understand its origins, its stories, its meanings, its values. Beyond the charmed circle of scholarship, the time has come to extend the reach of the library enchantments and throw it open to the people whose crown jewels – its books and manuscripts and other primary documents of history and identity – it holds. The experience of these precious documents is enhanced, moreover, by the library’s formidable collections of non-Jewish materials, notably its Islamic and Middle Eastern collections. The National Library in Jerusalem, in sum, deserves to be become the center of world Jewish culture, and of the rigorous and imaginative reflection upon it.
It was for the purpose of such reflection that the Global Forum of the National Library was created. After all, every item in this great richness says darsheni. The collection and presentation, physically and digitally, of these breathtaking collections is only the beginning of the obligation that the Library imposes upon its users and its seekers. After the presentation must come the interpretation. In some ways, indeed, the interpretation must precede the presentation, and offer it organizing principles. Jewish culture is above all a culture of interpretation – and that grand fact also demands to be interpreted. The aim of the Global Forum is to create a regular community of thinkers, scholars, writers, artists and others who will attend to the noble work of interpretation, and take upon themselves the pleasures and the strains of attempting to establish, by means of dialogue about central ideas and central texts and central images from all the eras of Jewish civilization, the many meanings of what together we all cherish.
We welcome you warmly to this gathering of the Global Forum. Come let us reason together. And let us make of our reasoning a model of how to preserve and to transmit our traditions thoughtfully. In an era of transition and transformation in which we now live, in which futurisms and archaisms exist side by side and reconciliation seems a very remote possibility, a great deal will depend on the quality of our thinking about our foundations.
Professor Moshe Halbertal Leon Wieseltier
Co-Chair of the Global Forum Co-Chair of the Global Forum