The Schmooze

A Jewish 'Refuge,' Virtually Recreated

Image courtesy of Freeman, Kaplan, Shiff

When Mordecai Manuel Noah, the most influential Jew in the United States in the early 19th-century, tried to establish a refuge for Jews called “Ararat” on Grand Island, New York, he failed miserably. Efforts to establish the colony in 1825 went no further than a big kick-off event in Buffalo, which was followed by a resounding lack of interest and support by American and international Jews. Now, 187 years later, three art professors are bringing Ararat to life — at least virtually.

“Mapping Ararat: An Imaginary Jewish Homeland Project” is the brainchild of multimedia artist and University of Toronto professor Melissa Shiff, her husband Louis Kaplan, a cultural historian at U of T, and John Craig Freeman, a new media expert from Emerson College in Boston. The project will be part of “Where To?” a group exhibit opening April 28 at the Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon.

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A Jewish 'Refuge,' Virtually Recreated

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