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2 Gravesites and Memorials of Libyan Jews Alternative Versions of the Sacralization of Space in Judaism HARVEY E. GOLDBERG EDITORS' COMMENTS This chapter, "Gravesites and Memorials of Libyan Jews: Alternative Versions ofthe Sacralization ofSpace in Judaism, " is by Harvey Goldberg. The case Goldberg focuses on involves the Jewish cemetery in Tripoli over which the contemporary Libyan authorities decided , a few years ago, to build a road. In response, a group of Libyan Jews resolved to build commemorative plaques honoring the graveyard both in Italy (Rome) and in Israel. Goldberg concentrates on the experience ofone individual in order to show how people can-in contrast to many of the assumptions upon which modern states are predicated-hold to a set of nonexclusive national identities. He does this through showing how this individual has created a set of metaphors in which Libya is his motherland, while Italy and Israel are his fatherlands. In this way he seems both to accommodate and to question the very notion (basic to Zionism ) of the exclusivity of Israeli identity. The patterns of sanctification of time and of space in Jewish culture are ancient. Their form, content, degree of salience, and interrelationship have 47 2 Gravesites and Memorials of Libyan Jews Alternative Versions of the Sacralization of Space in LJudaism HARVEY E. GOLDBERG EDITORS' COMMENTS This chapter, "Gravesites and Memorials of Libyan jews: Alternative Versions ofthe Sacralization ofSpace in judaism, " is by Harvey Goldberg. The case Goldberg focuses on involves the jewish cemetery in Tripoli over lohich the contemporary Libyan authorities decided , a few years ago, to build a road. In response, a group of Libyan jews resolved to build commemorative plaques honoring the graveyard both in Italy (Rome) and in Israel. Goldberg concentrates on the experience ofone individual in order to show how people can-in contrast to many of the assumptions upon which modern states are predicated-hold to a set of nonexclusive national identities. He does this through showing how this individual has created a set of metaphors in which I-Jibya is his motherland, while Italy and Israel are his fatherlands. In this way he seelns both to accommodate and to question the very notion (basic to Zionism ) of the exclusivity of Israeli identity. The patterns of sanctification of time and of space in Jewish culture are ancient. Their form, content, degree of salience, and interrelationship have 47 48 Harvey E. Goldberg varied under different historical circumstances (Davies 1982). An emphasis on time was probably highlighted by the long diaspora existence during which Jews did not control the territories within which they lived (Zerubavel 1981 :105). Heschel's (1951) characterization of Jewish ritual as architecture in time is an apt expression of that emphasis. At the same time, the sanctification of space was never totally submerged in Jewish consciousness (Boyarin 1991:18-19). Both synagogues and cemeteries were ever-present physical and territorial expressions of sanctity. The emergence of modern Jewish nationalism, of course, brought notions of spatial sanctity to the fore. The tangibility and concreteness of territory make it a natural candidate for conflict. This is obviously the case when territory is the basis of important social and strategic resources, but also may be seen in the struggle for control of symbolic dimensions of territory (Kimmerling 1983). Observers of North African life have pointed to cases in which both Jews and Muslims venerate the same saint's shrine, seeing in this an indicator of symbiosis. It is less often noted that such shrines may also be sites of contestation of the religious identity of the saint (Shinar 1980). In the European world, the recent controversy over the convent in Auschwitz (Bartoszewski 1990) provides another example of the intertwining of spiritual debate with a sense of place. Sites of death, and those memorializing the dead, are thus both concrete and, at the same time, open to considerable symbolic reworking. They take on different meanings not only across different traditions, but within a given tradition. A study comparing two Jewish cemeteries in a Midwestern city in the United States shows how distinctive conceptions ofJudaism are inscribed in each (Gradwohl and Gradwohl 1988). Similarly, in Israel today, the enhanced attachment to land that is a correlate of national sovereignty does not obliterate alternate readings of territorial sanctity. Important diaspora communities continue to exist, side by side with a Jewish state. They, and the individuals who comprise them, formulate variant views of Judaism, and construct appropriate symbols locating their lives in Jewish space. In the present...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780791496268
Related ISBN
9780791432174
MARC Record
OCLC
42856501
Pages
246
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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