Sunday, April 29, 2007


It was my seventieth birthday present to myself. Accepting the British Library's invitation to 'Sacred: Discover What We Share'. In 2001 we had organized an international conference in Florence on The City and the Book, centred on the alphabet and the Bible as the basis of our western culture, neither of them European in origin. Then we had submitted a proposal to the European Union for digitizing the great Bible manuscripts in the major European libraries. We were turned down. It was the year the EU was strongly anti-religion. That was how I first came to know Ilana Tahan of the British Library. It was she who invited me. For one of the earliest surviving Hebrew Bibles is owned by them and needing to be digitized.

The Exhibition is magnificent, Torahs, Gospels, Korans. Present at its opening were all the Peoples of the Book, Jews, Christians, Muslims. Admiring how much beauty there is in these books. And learning how much each owed the other. The Gospels in Arabic, like a Koran. A Hebrew manuscript, for celebrating the Passover within a family, illuminated like a Christian one. It is from Barcelona and Linda and Michael Falter who showed it to me, have created a facsimile edition of it.

The Exhibition presented how each carried out their liturgies, at birth, at marriage, at death. I could not resist telling of Karen Graffeo's marvellous chuppa that we created in Florence for a wedding in Florida, where I, a Christian hermit, pencilled the names of the Jewish ancestors on white silk, these being then embroidered by Muslim gypsies in gold thread, all the Peoples of the Book working together for the Jewish wedding. See

No comments: