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Bar Kokhba


With the rise of Zionism a new light was shed on the defeated and neglected Jewish heroism... Rabbi Akiva now appears to us not only as the old man who sat in the yeshiva, but also as the prophet of the revolt; and Bar Kosiva has been transformed back to Bar Kokhba in the people's minds."

Berl Katznelson, Introduction, The Book of Heroism

Bar Kokhba


The museum is presently working on a large exhibition to be displayed in early 2016.

Bar Kokhba's character has always been controversial in Jewish tradition, and the criticism leveled at his leadership, which had inspired messianic hope for redemption, was expressed in what was considered a disgraceful name, "Bar Kosiva," which appears in a Talmudic text and in later sources as well.

Contrary to this direction, the formulators of Zionist memory and Jewish culture chose to present the character of the revolt's leader as an admired hero, the result of his daring and love of freedom, and they replaced the traditional Bar Kosiva with the messianic name of Bar Kokhba.

This exhibition will presents archeological exhibits, works of art, and numerous items that attest to the myth and popular culture that were created in Israel and in the Diaspora regarding the hero, and examine the way in which philosophers and tradition related to him over generations. Zionism and the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine conferred a special place to "the revival" of Bar Kokhba as the mighty warrior, as part of their creation of its culture and ethos. The character of Bar Kokhba still raises a stormy argument, and it seems that it still lives and battles within us even today.

The exhibition is multifaceted and offers a multi-period cross-section of the controversial figure of Shimon Bar Kokhba through two main sections:

(a) A historical archeological view

Maps that locate the arena of the revolt, coins, items, illustrations, copies of documents and letters, films and photographs that document archeological excavations, and art works inspired by the revolt and its leader.

(b) The revival of Bar Kokhba as the archetype of Jewish heroism

1. His place in Jewish literature from mid-19th century - books, theater posters, art works, Judaica artifacts, the development of the lion motif in illustrations and sculpture.

2. The Zionist concept of "muscular Judaism" derives from the image of Bar Kokhba: diverse visual images of Bar Kokhba organizations in the Diaspora from early 20th century.

3. Lag Baomer in the Diaspora; photographs and items that belong to Zionist youth movements celebrating the holiday. According to one tradition, Lag Baomer marked a turning point in the revolt against the Romans and bonfires were lit to announce the victory.

4. Bar Kokhba as a component of ideological education in the Jewish Yishuv during the British Mandate until the present - poetry, theater, paintings, photographs, stamps, films, press clips, and video clips.


curator: Sara Turel

Design: Architect Ori Glazer

Closes: June 18, 2016