The Jewish Press
Friday, November 16, 2018
Tour Guide Brings Tanach and Jewish History To Life – At The Met By Rivkah Lambert Adler
If the prospect of a museum tour conjures up images of ancient relics in glass cases or eccentric sculptures by obscure artists, you’ve clearly never taken a tour with Nachliel Selavan. Yeshiva-educated Selavan fuses Tanach and museum artifacts, having created a niche for himself as a self-taught museum guide. Raised in the Old City of Jerusalem and now living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, he is the son of well-known Israeli tour guide Barnea Selavan. When the younger Selavan moved to New York five years ago to teach Judaic studies in area day schools, his father advised him to “get familiar with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and maybe bring educators there once a month.” Selavan told The Jewish Press, “We don’t always listen to our parents and teachers. And then one day we realize, ‘Hey, they were right!’” It took him three years to act on his father’s advice, something he says he did “begrudgingly.” “Even after I did it,” he said, “I didn’t think much of it. And then one of my professors told me, ‘You are sitting on a gold mine.’ That’s what gave me a boost to develop this, and three years, three continents, and 13 museums later, I am doing this for hundreds of people.” During his museum tours, Selavan focuses on making what he calls “the saga of Klal Yisrael” come to life. Rather than pontificating about stale ideas and long-dead people, Selavan uses his Torah knowledge and teaching skills to make idol worship, the Persian Empire, the Canaanites, and the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus – in short, the distant past – relevant to Jewish iden-
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Nachliel Selavan at the Met.
tity today. This coming Chanukah, he’s planning special tours in the Met. He calls his clients “adventurers” and plans to bring them to the Greek, Roman and Ptolemaic Egyptian galleries. There, he will help them “understand the beauty, some similarities and differences between Hellenism and Judaism, from the lens of Chazal,” he said. To learn more about Selavan or his tours, visit TorahIntermedia.com.