The exhibition of the Jewish Museum of Belgium called "Paths and Jewish spaces. The Shul of Molenbeek. Facets of contemporary Judaism" essentially aims at reminding the public of the history and fate of a community that, after years of Nazi occupation, flourished thanks to the dynamism and enterprising spirit of the survivors. This exhibition helps people discover the many aspects of Judaism in Belgium and explains the major Jewish rituals: birth, circumcision, bar mitzvah, wedding and death.
Beth Israel is the name of a Shul was established in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels after World War II. Shul is the Yiddish term by which the Ashkenazi Jews name the Synagogue. The Molenbeek Shul was founded at the initiative of Nouchim Kilimnik in memory of his mother Tania Trynowsky who died in Brussels in 1946. True religious and cultural garden, the Beth Israel Shul was reconstructed in an identical way in the Jewish Museum of Belgium. It presents a particular aspect of the life of a community of men and women during the post-war period in Brussels. Founded at the height of Reconstruction, this Shul is part of a moderate Orthodox Judaism trend.
Displayed on three different levels this exhibition explains the Jewish religion, the culture and the daily life of Judaism. Judaism, whether considered in religious or cultural terms, is still unknown. This exhibition aims at raising awareness regarding the diversity and complexity of Judaism by taking as a narrative medium a particular place of prayer, built in 1946. The main objects that make up the Shul are treated and perceived as pretexts to explain and support the story. The two languages of the Molenbeek Shul were Hebrew and Yiddish. Hebrew was the religious language and Yiddish was used as a cultural vehicle. These two languages' history is explained in the Museum as well as all the Jewish rituals.
Judaism has always privileged the study, sharing and exchange of knowledge. From the therapists of ancient times, who wandered into the suburbs of Alexandria, to the young students of the Yeshivah in Brooklyn, a variety of places of encounter and sharing were established and visited by men and women from very different worlds. The Beth Israel Shul of Molenbeek is one of these special places of study, prayer and encounter.
Frédéric Darmuzey, JN1, Brussels.