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Blog Posts by Subject: Religion

Field Trip! Adult Literacy Students Visit Three Faiths Exhibit

Students outside the Three Faiths exhibitLast week, students from the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the Library's free adult literacy program, took a field trip to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building to see the exhibit, Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

As the group trundled up the library 

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Shazam! The Power of Language in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Hebrew text of first words of GenesisFrom “Abracadabra” to “Shazam,” and from “Say the magic word” to “Open Sesame,” humans have long believed that words and languages have a power far beyond and far deeper than their simple rational meanings.

The ancient peoples of Mesopotamia developed a mythological explanation for this belief. Humans, the ancient legend of the Tower of Babel story goes, once spoke a divine language, the language God gave to us. This divine language enabled the first humans to communicate with God 

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Great Albums You May Have Missed: Mongo Santamaria's Afro-Roots (1958-1959)

In every corner of the world, as far back in history as the time machines of archaeology and anthropology can take us, music has been used by humans to communicate with the gods. It’s hard to remember in our world today, steeped as it is in the bubblegum profanity of pop culture; but Mongo Santamaria’s album, Afro-Roots, reminds us. It is a gateway into the spirit-world. The conga drum itself is our metaphysical guide, bridging the gap between the visible and invisible worlds, and thus bringing us into direct contact 

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Students at Seward Park Adult Literacy Program Discuss Three Faiths Exhibit

Last week, a group of adult students and volunteer tutors at the Seward Park Library's Center for Reading and Writing, the library's free adult literacy program, gathered for an introduction to the Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam exhibit at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and to gauge interest in a field trip. 

"Who has been to the 42nd Street Library—the 

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Three Faiths in Braille and Talking Books

In October, The New York Public Library launched a large exhibition, showcasing materials from its permanent collections, to celebrate the Three Faiths of Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam. From NYPL's website:  "Jews, Christians, and Muslims all possess a book that they regard as the Word of God. That Word—and the way it has been written, copied and illustrated over the centuries—is the basis of Three Faiths." 

The

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New York Lamasery: How Jacques Marchais Brought Tibetan Buddhism to Staten Island (and America)

In 1947, a Life magazine headline read: “New York Lamasery: a new Tibetan temple bewilders Staten Island.”

An American woman, Jacques Marchais -- a pioneer collector and respected expert on Tibetan art -- had created a uniquely peaceful museum. Nestled into the side of Lighthouse Hill, one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard, Marchais had designed a small complex of fieldstone buildings and gardens resembling a rustic Tibetan mountain monastery; she 

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Historical Perspectives on the Three Faiths

If the Three Faiths exhibit has piqued your curiosity, here are five books that offer some historical background to the origin and development of the three religious traditions.

Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths Bruce Feiler New York: W. Morrow, 2002

The author presents Abraham as he is portrayed in all three 

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Languages of God: The Word as Decoration

The First Polyglot Psalter, Psalter, in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic; Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516The New York Public Library, Rare Book DivisionJews and Muslims have a particular attachment to languages as expressions of the Word of God. Hebrew and Arabic are both sacred languages since both are in a sense the language of God Himself.

But there is an important difference. The Jews lost their Hebrew as a living language while the Bible was still 

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Scribing the Sacred

If you find inspiration in thoughts of pen angles and letter heights, please visit the “Scriptorium” at The New York Public Library’s “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam” exhibition.

In the Scriptorium you will see the tools of the scribe: paper, ink, and pens, and learn how they have been used to create religious manuscripts over the centuries. The exhibit hall also contains a lighted table, with 

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Behind the Scenes at Three Faiths: A Conversation with Senior Exhibitions Conservator Myriam de Arteni

Myriam de Arteni has been painstakingly repairing the library’s vast collections for more than three decades. But for de Arteni, conserving works in the “Three Faiths” exhibit--which include some of the library’s oldest and most precious documents--has been one of her most ambitious projects yet.

How does this exhibit compare to other exhibits you’ve worked on? Was it among the most ambitious?

Yes, it was very challenging because it features such rare and fragile 

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Reader's Den October Book Discussion: Questions about Joe Sacco's "Palestine"

Welcome to week three of the October 2010’s Readers Den. Here are some discussion questions:

Joe Sacco wrote Palestine with the intention of showing the realities of the occupied territories and the affect on the Palestinians. According to David Thompson’s 2003 online review in The Observer, “a number of stridently Zionist web sites have perversely, accused Sacco of 'Jew-bashing' and his Seattle ... Read More ›

Guardians of the Sacred Word

The first multilingual Psalter. Genoa, 1516. The New York Public Library, Rare Book Division.For very long time, Jews, Christians and Muslims have behaved toward one another like members of a dysfunctional family, like the competitors for an immense inheritance, the favor of Almighty God. But the current exhibition at the New York Public Library uncovers quite another strain of familiarity among the three, their devotion to the book.

Many cultures value the written word, the art of writing and a reverence for 

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St. Clare, Patron Saint of Embroiderers

I recently learned, while reading the Summer 1966 issue of Embroidery, that embroiderers have their own patron saint.  She's St. Clare of Assisi, an Italian contemplative known for her hand-sewn altar cloths as well as for her extremely austere way of life.  In 1966, the members of the Embroiderers' Guild, an impressive English organization responsible for the publication of Embroidery, embarked on a shared project inspired by the saint as part of the Guild's 

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On the Shadows in Abraham's Cave: Thoughts on Beryl Korot and Steve Reich's 'The Cave'

The Cave, by wife and husband team Beryl Korot (video artist) and Steve Reich (composer), is an experimental multimedia piece featuring recorded interviews set to live music. Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans are all asked about the significance of the story of Abraham and his burial place, The Cave of Machpelah, which is held sacred by Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Interviewees are asked about the significance of Abraham to their lives, the significance of his two sons Ishmael and Isaac, and their two 

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Green Witch: A Review

Green used to think her story was written. The day her beloved city was burned to the ground seemed to be the end of things. Her mother, her father, and her beautiful sister were gone. The boy she loves is far away searching for his own family. The past is filled with dangerous memories and the future seems like a distant hope. So Green tries to focus on the present.

As her village tries to rebuild, Green tends her garden and collects the stories of the survivors. When Green sets out to find the Enchanted–women the village calls witches–in the hopes of 

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Happy New Year, Circa 1910: Pop-up Greeting Cards in the Jewish Division

If you visit your local stationery store in September, you may well find a small selection of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) cards. The cards will probably have the standard Hebrew greeting for the new year, Le-shanah tovah tikatevu (literally, "May you be inscribed for a good year"). They may be serious, as befits a greeting card for the "Days of Awe," or light-hearted. (I saw one recently that showed a man asking his neighbor, "How's your New Year going?" Answer: "Shofar, so good").  It's 

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The Sarajevo Haggadah

For any manmade thing to survive for over five hundred years is an amazing. For it to be a Jewish book in Europe is a miracle.

Geraldine Brooks tells the story of such a miraculous happening in People of the Book. Join the Hudson Park Book Discussion Saturday, July 10, from 10:30 to 12 noon and we will discuss the fascinating journey of this book, an illuminated Haggadah, a prayer book used during Passover. You can 

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The Creation of Christmas

I generally enjoy the Christmas season if I don’t allow myself to get sucked up in the frenzy. Of course, the frenzy is almost irresistible: the catalogs start coming right after Labor Day, store owners regard Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season, and the stability of the global economy depends on how free and easy you are with your credit card. As for me, I’ve always thought of Christmas as:

"a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open ... Read More ›

The Birth of Freedom of Religion - Flushing Remonstrance, December 27, 1657

350 years ago, 30 Quaker farmers from the Flushing, Queens area signed an appeal to the governor of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, to allow them to freely practice their religion. Stuyvesant had banned all religions outside of the Dutch Reformed Church from being practiced in the colony, which led to the persecution of Quakers, among others. In response to this petition the government of New Netherland threw some of the signers in jail and replaced the government of the town of Flushing with more reasonable substitutes.

A few years later, John Bowne of Flushing (then known as 

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