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Cambridge University Library

Hear, O Israel: The Magic of the Shema

Hear, O Israel (exhibition guide)
Pages from the exhibition's accompanying book.
Melonie Schmierer-Lee
Wed 17 Nov 2021

The Israel Museum’s new exhibition, Hear, O Israel, The Magic of the Shema, explores the complex relationship between ‘religion’ and ‘magic’ in the story of the Shema – a text recited by Jews since time immemorial. The exhibition brings together artefacts from Qumran tefillin to Babylonian magic bowls, with protective incantations covering all eventualities and amulets of all descriptions. The exhibition is accompanied by a handsome, hardcover exhibition guide that is both scholarly and beautifully illustrated. A couple of pages in the book, written by Gideon Bohak, the academic consultant to the exhibition, are dedicated to ‘The Shema and Magic in the Cairo Genizah’. These pages feature glossy images of T-S Ar. 44.44, a recipe for an amulet incorporating the Shema, and T-S NS 290.58, a mezuza ‘spiced up’ with magical additions such as the names of angels. The catalogue really is lovely. As one of my colleagues exclaimed when examining it, ‘that mezuza has never looked finer!’ These fragments were intended to travel to Israel for the exhibition, but restrictions on international travel due to the pandemic meant that we were unable to send a member of staff to transport the fragments and images had to suffice. The exhibition will run until 23 April 2022.

Update: The exhibition catalogue is now available to order in Hebrew or English version here.


I'm teaching Jewish Magic at an online academy and wondering where I can purchase the catalogue to the "Hear O Israel" exhibition ?
I would love to get a copy..

I haven't been able to track down where a copy can be ordered online yet - I will post a link here when I find out. Parts of it are available on here.


The book is now available to order in English or Hebrew version here:


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