Founder of the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
May 27, 1913 – January 14, 2003
Dr. Elie Borowski leaves a legacy for future generations in the museum that he founded together with his wife Batya for the study, understanding and appreciation of Biblical history and the history of the Ancient Near East.
The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem is the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the Bible and the Ancient Near East. The Permanent Exhibition, which is made up almost entirely of the former private collection of Dr. Elie Borowski, spans from earliest civilization to the Early Christian era in the Lands of the Bible.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, he studied at the prestigious Tachkemoni and Mir Yeshivas. His unquenchable thirst for knowledge lead him to study at many of Europe’s leading universities including the Collegio Rabbinico of Florence, the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, the Sorbonne, the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, and the University of Geneva.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, in August 1939, he joined the “Jews of France Committee of Combatants and Volunteers”, and enlisted in the Polish Division within the French Army which was forced to retreat into Switzerland. There he was interned for the remainder of the war. Devastated by the Holocaust, he was left with nothing but the education he had acquired in the pre-war years. He used his extensive knowledge and understanding of ancient art, history and languages to become a world renowned expert on ancient art and inscriptions, with an emphasis on the biblical period.
Over a period of more than 50 years he assembled a priceless collection of Ancient Near Eastern art reflecting the cultures and civilizations of the biblical period. This collection was first published in 1975 in the catalog, Ladders to Heaven which accompanied an exhibition which traveled in Europe and Canada. The collection continued to grow, and the dream began to formulate: to create an institution of learning, a unique resource of universal stature, where people of all faiths would come to learn about biblical history. In the shadow of the Holocaust, this concept began to take shape as a way to encourage future generations to understand the morals and ethics of the Bible.
In 1982, Elie married Batya, whom he met at an exhibition opening in Jerusalem the year before. This incredibly volatile and energetic couple began to put their talents together to transform his tremendous dream into a reality. Together they overcame skeptics and bureaucratic stumbling blocks, ultimately establishing a world-class museum in the heart of Jerusalem’s Museum Row. Former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek understood the vision of Borowski and the incomparable collection he donated to establish the museum.
The Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem opened its doors to the public on May 11, 1992 and has since earned international acclaim as a universal center for cultural and educational programming. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to the history of the biblical period in the ancient lands of the Bible. Tracing history from the dawn of civilization to the early Christian era, this priceless collection of rare and exquisite ancient treasures is displayed chronologically allowing the visitor a walk through history. A guided tour through the museum traces the development of religious beliefs, worship, trade, commerce and communication from the beginning of urbanization through the Talmudic period. Innovative educational programs for school children, weekly lectures and courses for adults, and creative programs on the holidays are part of the active programming offered at the museum.
Elie Borowski’s work was never finished. He left this world while in the midst of preparing for the future. He was a man of action – always planning, working and dreaming. Plans for the expansion and growth of the museum have been developed in order to accommodate needed exhibition space, a research library and educational facilities.
This was his dream for the future – it is now in the hands of all those who have supported the museum in the past, and those who will be inspired to join it in the future. To this aim, we have initiated the Elie Borowski Memorial Fund. This fund will help to protect the future of the museum and all its vibrant programs.
Elie Borowski dedicated his life to nurturing a dream from its conception to its realization. The Bible Lands Museum, surpassing all initial expectations, became the ideal vehicle for his legacy, which will continue to touch many generations to come.
“the future of mankind has its roots in the past
only through understanding our history we can build a better future.”
(Dr. Elie Borowski)
Dr. Elie Borowski with the dedication stone on the entrance plaza of the museum
CLick here to view A film for the 18th Anniversary gala dinner Honoring museum Chairman and Co-founder Batya Borowski.