GARDEN OF QUESTIONS
Sweet bay, myrtle, thyme, lavender and marjoram grow in the MEIS Garden of Questions; these are the herbs used in the havdalah, the prayer recited at the end of the Sabbath or Shabbat, to symbolically mark the end of a holiday and day of rest and usher in the new week.
These herbs have been planted and arranged so as to trace out an itinerary – a learning path – where explanatory panels help provide an understanding of the rules of kasherut, the Jewish dietary laws, with particular reference to the use of meat, milk, fish and eggs. Each of these four types of food is associated with a different point of entry into a small labyrinth. As they proceed, the visitors answer questions about the use of these elements in Jewish cuisine. A wrong answer sends them back, but an explanation of the correct rules gets them back on track.
Through a playful, interactive approach, the Garden thus brings the public closer to Jewish culture through its smells and flavors, answers certain rather widespread questions – for example, why Jews do not eat pork. It forces us reflect on our differences – as well as our many similarities – with other traditions.
The Garden also has an olive tree – one of the seven species mentioned in the bible along with the fig tree, pomegranate, grape vine, wheat, barley and date palm. It is a modular, environmentally-friendly place that extends over an area of thirty-two square meters, partially covered. It is an original, one-of-a-kind project in Italy.