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Colossal work in the midst of a pandemic at the Arab World Institute for the exhibition on the Jews of the East

Decided in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the exhibition “Eastern Jews, a multi-thousand-year history” was produced in record time, thanks to a shocking duo. The historian Benjamin Stora, commissioner general, composed the story and Elodie Bouffard, head of exhibitions, at the Institute of the Arab World (IMA), made sure that the 280 pieces, identified in museums and among collectors private worldwide, can be loaned and arrive in Paris on time. A colossal work of a year, while air communications were generally at a standstill.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In Paris, the Institut du monde arabe explores the multi-thousand-year-old illustrated history of the Jews of the East

From his accession to the head of the IMA in 2013, Jack Lang expressed his desire to transform the institution into a place of dialogue, confluence and respect. By dedicating, in particular, an exhibition to each of the great spiritual cultures that marked the Arab lands. After the exhibition devoted to the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca of Muslims (in 2014), then to Eastern Christians (in 2017), it was the turn of the centuries-old history of the Jews to be told. To give the exhibition an indisputable scientific soundness, he asked Benjamin Stora as commissioner general. The historian specializing in Algeria had been entrusted by Emmanuel Macron with a report on the memorial reconciliation between France and Algeria. He had handed it over in January.

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At the IMA, some may have been surprised by this initiative. “I explained that our duty was to look history in the face in all its plurality, underlines Jack Lang. Jewish culture has been present in these Arab lands since Antiquity. In this time of confusion and denial, we must more than ever give the preeminence to history, science, culture, knowledge. «  Tracing the route of historical truth. Such is the determination at the IMA.

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