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'It's such a proud moment to be here,' says Israeli of Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit


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SALT LAKE CITY — Israel's Prime Minister made a connection with Utah's Great Salt Lake to Israel's Dead Sea and welcomed visitors to the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the Leonardo.

"It's more than a geographical coincidence — it's on where you have a closeness of the heart," said Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu of Salt Lake City.

Israeli curators have created the idea of a historic experience by bringing the Dead Sea Scrolls to Salt Lake City. It was a massive undertaking to bring all of the artifacts to Utah, but the presentation will prove unforgettable for many.

The writing leaps off the parchment. Having the Dead Sea Scrolls in Salt Lake City is both a compliment and honor.

"For me, as an Israeli, it's such a proud moment to be here because this is an exhibit of our connection to our land and it's the foundation of western civilization, so it's tremendously important," said Israeli Consul General, David Siegel.

Curators hope visitors will also see how the antiquities explain the ancient culture and what the people believed.

"Monotheism was not a revolution but an evolution — step by step," said Deputy Director of Archaeology for the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Uzi Dahari. "Not all the people followed the order of God at the beginning. Some yes, some no. It's like our life today.

Around every corner in the Leonardo is a remarkable artifact. A 3-ton stone came from the western wall in Jerusalem and above it rests a screen showing a live feed of that wall where people are praying.

Visitors will see the bedouin who discovered the first scrolls in a cave at Qumran — the oldest surviving text of the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. The discovery changed the world and helped people understand the creation of Judaism and Christianity.

"These are 2,000-year-old manuscripts that we are trying to preserve for us and for future generations," said curator and head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project, Pnina Shor.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a link of faith that crosses time and place.

The "Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times" exhibit opens Friday and goes until April 27. Israeli curators will return in February with 10 new scrolls.

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Carole Mikita

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