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Luminous 'People of the Book'

seven short films


Luminous: A thousand years of Hebrew manuscripts is an exhibition at the State of Library of Victoria. It comprises dozens of rarely seen manuscripts, including many from the British Library, that span both time and place, reflecting the journeys, traditions and experiences of Jewish people from the 11th century to the present, from the Middle East and North Africa, into Europe, China, India and Australia.

The final section of the exhibition contains seven short film portraits commissioned especially for this exhibition. In a certain sense, it is the most important section. A key message the curatorial team wanted to convey is that the magnificent array of manuscripts and books on display are far more than just that. They are, in fact, the foundations for Judaism as a living tradition in the here-and-now. Interpretations of Judaism’s textual traditions continue to be part of everyday life and are manifest in the daily decisions Jews make about how they observe the religion and identify with Jewish culture.

In the 'People of the Book' film portraits, visitors can see a few of the ways in which Australian Jews engage with Hebrew texts as part of their lived experience and their ongoing, dynamic and diverse Jewish tradition and practice in contemporary Australian life.

Paul Forgasz, Cultural Consultant for Luminous: A thousand years of Hebrew manuscripts 

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Photo credit: State Library of Victoria

The seven LUMINOUS ‘PEOPLE OF THE BOOK’ films explore the rich and varied ways Jewish people engage with core ancient Jewish texts. Judaism involves many centuries-long conversations with these texts with literally thousands of commentaries exploring issues as wide ranging as morality, our relationship with the environment, heroes and fallen heroes, the relationship between the genders, our place in the world.


This ongoing discourse with the written word continues vibrantly today - highlighting the contemporary meanings and relevance of the texts, drawing out their wisdom for our lives now. The seven films focus specifically on these conversations in Australia, showcasing the particular richness of responses in thought, literature, music, art and scholarship that have evolved in Jewish communities Down Under.


Through the films a range of Jewish Australians (scientists, lawyers, artists, rabbis, writers, social activists, musicians) reveal the ways they relate to these texts - giving the visitor an insight into some of the surprising and enchanting ways that contemporaries understand, respond and engage with ancient manuscripts in daily life and practice.


We live in a time when interpretation of religious texts can be used to justify coercion, hatred, violence and bloodshed. It is our responsibility to be mindful of what interpretations of these texts we want to pass on to our children. For this will become their reality.


Esther Takac, Writer/Director/Producer

Work the earth and take care of it

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images from LUMINOUS short film

'It is our responsibility to be mindful of what interpretations of these texts we want to pass on
to our children.  For this will become their reality.'

Esther Takac

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