My partner and I took the same photo from our separate journeys to Israel: A map showing how many of the world’s alphabets can be traced back to a single origin: Proto-Sinaitic. It’s a popular shot which shows up regularly in photos online, together with the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The map’s appeal to me is twofold. It’s fascinating that with an open mind and some patience so many of the world’s scripts are readable; a first step to understanding a foreign language with all its beautiful discoveries. Secondly, it appeals to the belief that no matter how different we are, we share a common root. So, we – humans – are more alike than different. In Israel, a country divided by language as much as by anything else, this is a welcome message.
I visited the Holy Land by invitation of the Ruth Youth Wing of the Israel Museum. They hosted a well-produced and thought-provoking conference about museum education in the 21st century in honour of their 50-year anniversary. It was a fascinating conference, in which language was a recurrent theme in the quest to answer a larger question: how can museums help bridge gaps between people? In my words: Can heritage and the arts be a shared language that brings people together, a modern-day Proto-Sinaitic?
Of course the answer is yes. Which brings us to the how. Continue ReadingRead More »