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The Moriah Experience Fascinating Tour – Moriah Exhibition
Welcome to IDC and to our Moriah Experience. Our tour tells a unique story, one that combines the history of the Jewish people and of the world, with the remarkable opportunity that was cultivated by Avi Tavisal, the founder of IDC and creator of the Moriah Collection Jerusalem stone jewelry.
Moriah Stone: Tzurim Valley Sifting Project (2004 – present) – Temple Mount
The story behind Moriah Exhibition begins in 1999 when an illegal excavation of the Temple Mount on Mount Moriah resulted in dozens of truckloads of the holiest land on Earth to be tossed out as debris. As you may know, because of the historical significance of Israel, no excavations are allowed without the permission and supervision of the Israel Antiquities Authority; however, this excavation was conducted without their permission or supervision.
Avi Tavisal, the founder of IDC (Israel Diamond Center), a man of faith and 7th-generation Jerusalemite, a diamond jeweler for 50 years, following in his father’s footsteps, became involved in a project that came to be known as the Emek Tzurim Sifting Project, an effort to sift through this debris for historical artifacts. He could not bear the thought of leaving the stones from the Temple Mount in a pile of rubble in the Valley and had a vision: He would use these Moriah Stones as his canvas. Through his art, he would retell the stories of creation, faith, history and yearning that are embodied by Mount Moriah, from which these stones were removed.
Using only engraving tools, gold, diamonds and gemstones, Tavisal and his skilled craftsmen have created beautiful artwork – including sculptures, jewelry, ceremonial art and other items of expression and beauty to celebrate this holy Earth as never before.
All of the stone in this exhibition are from the Temple Mount, the site of Mount Moriah. The Moriah Exhibition is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world.
Genesis: Seven Days of Creation
Let’s start at the beginning in Genesis (Heb.: Beresheet), the first book of the Old Testament, also called the Torah. Here we have a beautifully engraved Moriah stone depicting the story of the 7 days of Creation…that is, 6 days during which God Created the world and on the 7th day, he rested.
In our first window, we see an engraving on Moriah stone:
Creation Day 1 (Genesis 1:1-5)
God created the heavens and the earth and Water. He then separated the light from the dark and names the light “day” and the dark “night.” He worked from evening until morning.
Creation Day 2 (Genesis 1:6-8)
God created the sky as a barrier between water upon the surface and the atmosphere.
Creation Day 3 (Genesis 1:9-13)
God created dry land above the water and called it “the sea”. He then created plant life of many kinds that re-seeds itself and is sustained by the earth.
Creation Day 4 (Genesis 1:14-19)
God created all the stars and heavenly bodies. Two of these are made in relation to the earth: the sun as the primary source of light and the moon, to distinguish day from night.
Creation Day 5 (Genesis 1:20-23)
God created the life that lives in the water and birds in the sky, all capable of reproducing their own kind.
Creation Day 6 (Genesis 1:24-31)
God created all the creatures that live on dry land, including all land-animals and humans. Man and woman are made in the image of God and are special above all other creatures.
Creation Day 7 (Genesis 2:1-3)
On the 7th day, God rested after the creation was complete. Keeping the Sabbath, a day of rest, will later become a distinguishing trait of the Jewish people (Exodus 20:8-11).
We are about to witness the dramas that will occur on Mount Moriah in the following windows, so keep in mind that it is the location of the Foundation Stone – the foundation on which God created the world.
Birth of a Faith: Stories of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs
We all know stories of the Bible passed from generation to generation over thousands of years. From one of the best-known stories, we see here skillfully carved in Moriah stone the Sacrifice of Isaac, which, according to the Bible took place on Mount Moriah. This piece of artwork, like do other historical artifacts in here, should be in a museum, as it is original on all levels – literally engraved on Holy Land.
Here we see Abraham who created the idea of one God at a time when people were pagans and believed in multiple gods. At the time, people even sacrificed their first child to their gods. God tested him. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. When his son was 37, God asked him to sacrifice his only son and take him to “the place that I [God] will show you”, which the people knew as “Mount Moriah”. Abraham bound his son and was prepared to do as God had asked, when an angel, a messenger of God, came and said, ‘you did as God asked, but you do not have to sacrifice your son’. Abraham found a ram in the bushes and was told to sacrifice it instead. This test of Abraham’s faith was a milestone in the development of monotheism – the belief in one God.
It is believed that the famous episode of The Sacrifice of Isaac occurred precisely on the Foundation Stone, on which the Temples of Jerusalem would be built hundreds of years later, in the 10th Century BCE.
After Abraham and Isaac came Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob escaped from Esau, his brother, and ran to a place Beit El. He lay down to rest with a stone as his pillow and dreamed that angels were going up and down, and he said “this is the place that God called Beit El,” The House of God. This scenario is believed to have happened on Mount Moriah. The ladder in the dream links the earth to heaven. Some say it is an analogy for Mount Sinai, where Moses ascends to receive the laws for mankind from God.
We also see here the matriarch Rachel’s tomb. Rachel was the second and favorite wife of Jacob; to earn her hand in marriage, he worked 14 years for his father-in-law Lavan! After the first 7 years, Lavan tricked him into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older sister, and he was required to work another 7 years to finally earn his beloved Rachel. She is the mother of Joseph, who grew to become Jacob’s favorite of the 12 sons, after whom the 12 Tribes of Israel would be named.
After Joseph was born, Jacob decided to return to his family in the land of Canaan. Lavan pursued them and accused them of stealing his idols. In fact, Rachel, who had embraced the belief in one God, took her father’s idols and hid them in her camel’s seat cushion. Jacob, who did not know of his wife’s actions said, “With whomever you will find your gods, he will not live.” (Genesis 31:32) Shortly thereafter, Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin on the way to Canaan…and until this day, Jews, Christians and Muslims visit the Tomb of Rachel near Efrat.
Years before, Abraham had purchased a family burial cave, called the Cave of the Patriarchs or “Mearat Hamachpela” in the heart of Hebron. The Bible carefully spells out that he purchased the cave and adjacent field with money from Ephron the Hittite. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are all buried in this cave, which is both revered and contested by Jews and Muslims. Only Rachel was not buried in the family cave.
Holy of Holies: First Temple (950 BCE-586 BCE) – Second Temple (516 BCE-70 CE)
The book of Exodus tells that more than 3000 years ago, Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, after wandering in the desert for 40 years before arriving in the Promised Land, Eretz Yisrael.
As you know, while in the desert, the Jews received the Laws from God at Mount Sinai. To protect the Ten Commandments carved in stone, they built a Tabernacle, which they moved from place to place. When they finally entered the Holy Land and arrived at Jerusalem, they were commanded to build a permanent Tabernacle (Mishkan – משכן). In about 957 BCE, 3000 years ago, King Solomon built a permanent home for the Torah received at Mount Sinai. This was the First Temple built on Mount Moriah. Israel was conquered just over 235 years later [720 BCE] by the Babylonians who sent the Jews into exile in Babylon and the Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, having stood for about 400 years.
When Babylon fell, the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to the Land of Israel in 538 BCE, and to rebuild their Temple. Recognizing its importance, King Herod embellished it, rededicating the magnificent new structure in about 20 BCE. It was one of the most beautiful buildings that had ever been built until that time in Rome and it was certainly the most beautiful building in this part of the world. The floor was the most elaborate, unusual mosaic. They brought stones from all over the world, including an exotic red stone. A form of marble was used for the structure. Only 90 years later, during the great Jewish revolt against the Romans, the Roman general Titus, who later became Emperor, destroyed the Temple and exiled the Jews – many into slavery in Rome. In all, the Second Temple stood for almost 600 years and was again destroyed.
The Romans took all of the ceremonial artifacts from the Temple from Jerusalem to Rome: the silver trumpets, the gold menorah, and the gold, silver and bronze platters for the sacrifices. Today, these serve as proof of what existed in the Temple of Jerusalem.
New Testament: Via Dolorosa – from Temple Mount to Calvary Hill
Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Seder and, like thousands of Jews at the time, to participate in the pilgrimage that would occur 3 times a year on the Jewish holidays of Passover, Succot and Shavuot.
The Via Dolorosa, with its 14 stations marked within the walled Old City of Jerusalem, is the path that Jesus walked, bearing the cross, from the site of his trial at the Antonia Fortress, next to the Temple Mount, leading to his crucifixion on Calvary Hill, the site on which the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was erected 300 hundred years later.
So, it was only about 40 years after Jesus that Jerusalem was conquered and the Temple destroyed. Christianity was gradually separating from Judaism. It spread throughout the Roman Empire, ending Paganism and embracing Christianity in 325 AD. Rome became the hub for spreading the teachings of Jesus.
Later in 1099, the Crusaders, in the name of Christianity, conquered Jerusalem, in order to release its holy sites from 450 years of Muslim rule.
Destruction to Revival: The Exile and the Return to Jerusalem
Our next display starts with the Arch of Titus, built to honor Titus for conquering Jerusalem in the Jewish-Roman War in 70-71 CE. The engravings depict the Romans carrying loot stolen from the Second Temple, including the menorah, silver trumpets, and perhaps the Arc of the Covenant. This arch became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora.
In the late 1800s, prompted by pogroms and anti-Semitism in the diaspora, Jews began to return to the Holy Land to “Build and be built” as pioneers. Following the historic UN vote of November 29, 1947 to recognize the establishment of Israel as an independent state, on May 15, 1948, Israel declared statehood with Jerusalem as its capital. Waves of immigration would come from Europe following World War II and the Holocaust, then from Arab nations in the Middle East and Northern Africa. This remarkable return of the Jewish People to the Holy Land and Jerusalem after nearly 2,000 years in Exile was the answer to prayers of generations.
Those who lived here cannot forget what happened in 1967; West Jerusalem was the border with Jordan, which ruled over East Jerusalem. In 1967, during the Six Day War, the Jordanians joined the armies of Egypt and Syria and the war. As a result, …within 2 days, Israel liberated East Jerusalem including the Old City, all of Judea and Samaria thru to the Jordan River. Then, the People of Israel heard the most important words we could imagine, bringing the Jewish people from all over the world to tears: “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” With the restoration of the unified Holy City, Jerusalem was declared Israel’s eternal, unified capital.
Moriah Collection of Historical Artifacts: Great Icons of Jerusalem
Here in Moriah Jewelry and Judaica, we have replicated in Moriah Stone some of the most notable symbols of Jerusalem and its surroundings: the Tower of David, the Western Wall, the Second Temple, the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock and the Montefiore Windmill.
We also see here symbols of the Jewish people, such as:
- The Lion of Judah (Hebrew: אריה יהודה Aryeh Yehudah), the symbol of the Israelite tribe of Judah has become both a national and cultural symbol of the Jewish people and the symbol of Jerusalem.
- The Menorah, a sacred candelabrum with seven branches (in contrast to the one used during the Chanukah holiday which has nine). The Bible describes how the craftsman Bezalel made the menorah of pure gold to use in the sanctuary in the Temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 37:17–24). Today it is the official symbol of the State of Israel.
- The Hamsah, an amulet for good luck, has its roots in many ancient cultures in this region.
Each of these handcrafted items has its own Certificate of Authenticity, documenting that the gold and diamonds are embedded in Moriah stone from the Temple Mount. These items, like those in the other windows, are produced in limited editions to ensure that they are very special, authentic gifts from the Holy Land. You will not see these creations anywhere else.
Seven Species: The Land of Milk and Honey
God has promised and delivered a good land, where wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives (oil and fruit), and dates (fruit and honey) are in plentiful supply. (Deuteronomy 8:8-9). The reference to milk is likely the milk from goats and the honey is likely from dates…what we call “silan”.
In the Bible, (Numbers 13), the Lord tells Moses to send one spy from each of the 12 Tribes of Israel to investigate the Promised Land to find out: Who lives there? Is the land good or bad? Is the soil rich or poor? Bring back some fruit from the land!
So, when the spies went through the Eshkol Valley, they cut off a cluster of grapes and carried it on a pole between two of them, as well as some pomegranates and figs. In Hebrew, a cluster of grapes is called an “Eshkol” in Hebrew, after the valley from which they were taken. In the modern State of Israel, the symbol of these two spies carrying the grapes has become the symbol of the Israel Tourism Industry.
Here you can see beautiful renderings representing the seven species, engraved in Moriah Stone and embellished with diamonds, gold, and gemstones. These are all original designs, created by Avi Tavisal and produced in limited edition.
This concludes the Moriah Experience. I hope you have enjoyed the exceptional craftsmanship in this museum-quality exhibit, which is the history of Mount Moriah, its people and the history of Israel etched in Moriah Stone and embellished with gold and diamonds.