Knowing the story of the Jews should not consist of merely going through history books. It should also consist of seeing it, hearing it, and perhaps, even experiencing it. Doing so will serve as a bridge to understanding how the Jewish identity and culture have not only survived, but even thrived, for over 2,500 years. Fortunately, there’s the best venue to do these things and you will find it in a vast museum in Tel Aviv.
The ANU – Museum of the Jewish People is a museum and a global institution that chronicles the history of the Jewish people from the biblical times to the present. It is located in the heart of the Tel Aviv University campus in the neighborhood of Ramat Aviv.
ANU is the only museum in the world of its kind, dedicated to chronicling, exploring, and celebrating the experiences, accomplishments, and spirit of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years.
No matter what faith or belief you have, you and everyone else are welcome to visit this museum. ANU is intended for people of all faiths, not just Jews of various sectors but also including non-Jews, offering them a fascinating look into understanding Jewish history, culture, identity, and continuity of all these.
ANU is actually a recently expanded museum of the former Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People. “Beit Hatfutsot” means “The Diaspora House,” as it is dedicated to chronicling over 2,500 years of Jewish history throughout the diaspora (dispersion of the Jewish people outside Israel). It was also formerly called the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish People, named after Dr. Nahum Goldmann (1895 – 1982), founder and first president of the World Jewish Congress.
In 1959, the World Jewish Congress planned to erect a building that would serve not just as a museum but also as an educational and cultural institute for Jews worldwide. After almost two decades, the Beit Hatfutsot finally opened in 1978. It was the most technologically advanced museum at the time, using state-of-the-art computer technology to showcase topics and themes throughout the museum.
Despite the challenges and difficulties mainly due to Israel’s economic crises at the time, the museum survived. In 2005, the Knesset ratified the “Beit Hatfutsot Law,” which defines the museum as “the National Center for Jewish Communities in Israel and around the world.”
The museum underwent a $100-million renovation and expansion for more than a decade. On March 10, 2021, the rebranded ANU – Museum of the Jewish People was reponed to the public. The museum’s new brand identity adds the “ANU” – “anu” is the Jewish word for “we” – to imply inclusion and to reflect the Jewish people’s diversity and collective spirit everywhere in the world.
Visiting the museum
The expansion tripled the museum’s gallery space to 72,000 square feet (6,690 square meters) across four wings and three floors.
These exhibitions include:
- The Mosaic – Modern Jewish Identity and Culture Wing – This permanent exhibition, located on the third floor, chronicles the life of the Jewish people in modern times. It also introduces visitors to the diversity of the Jewish culture today and the Jews’ contributions to worldwide culture and civilization.
- The Journey – The Jewish Story Through Time Wing – This is another permanent exhibition located on the second floor. It is dedicated to the entire narrative of worldwide Jewry, tracing their history and roots from Jewish people worldwide, from the biblical times to the present day.
- Foundations – A Common Core, A Universal Message Wing – Located on the first floor, this permanent exhibition explores the conceptual foundations of Jewish existence, whether uniquely Jewish or commonly universal. These foundations include Jewish beliefs, traditions, and practices, and the Bible and its impact on world culture, particularly in its connection to the concept of justice and liberty.
- The Synagogue Wing – This wing includes both permanent and temporary exhibitions, such as the Alfred H. Moses and Family Synagogue Hall and the Let There Be Laughter – Jewish Humor Around the World.
The museum also hosts workshops and lectures. It also has a school, the Koret International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies, whose discipline is Jewish Peoplehood studies. In addition to studies, the school holds various workshops geared toward educational groups visiting Israel through long-term or short-term programs.
The ANU offers a very modern and cutting-edge way of telling the history and culture of the Jewish people through interactive exhibits. One of the museum’s most popular attractions is the artwork of lesser-known historical Jewish figures such as Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi, an Ottoman-era Jewish philanthropist. Visitors can be given a digital bracelet, which they will use to capture the museum’s unique elements, ranging from family trees to literary quotations to recipes, and take them home by e-mail.
On the top of this museum is an open-air deck or terrace offering views of the city of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea.
The museum complex has a café, the Aroma Café (closed on Saturdays), located on the first floor. It also has a shop (closed on Saturdays).
Do you have a famous relative?
If you want to find out your roots – or if you have a famous cousin or if you’re even related to the other visitors in the museum – the ANU can help you with that. The museum partners with Geni.com to develop an app called MJP & Me, which shows whether you’re related to any of the visitors – in real time – or whether you’re related to a historical or famous Jew. If these newly discovered relatives are part of the exhibition, the app shows you where to find them.
ANU – Museum of the Jewish People – general information
Klausner Street 15,
Tel Aviv University,
Sunday to Wednesday – 10:00 – 17:00
Thursday – 10:00 – 22:00
Friday – 09:00 – 14:00
Saturday – 10:00 – 17:00
Through its website, the museum will inform you in advance that they will be closed on specific dates to give way to maintenance.
Ticket prices (subject to change without prior notice):
Adults – 52 NIS
Israeli senior citizens – 26 NIS
Persons with disabilities, college and university students, and olim (new immigrants to Israel) – 39 NIS
Children under 5 years old and soldiers in uniform – free entrance
For groups, agents, guided groups, etc., you may contact the museum in advance.
How to go to ANU – Museum of the Jewish People
The museum is on the campus of Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv. The entrance is through Gate 2.
It is also accessible from Ayalon Highway.
You can reach the museum by taking either Egged or Dan buses:
- Egged – Bus lines 271, 222, and 572
- Dan – Bus lines 7, 25, 289, and 45
You can also reach the museum by train. The nearest railway station to the museum is the “Tel Aviv University.” The train also has connections via Dan bus lines 7 and 45.
Check out other Tel Aviv museums and galleries.