In October 2007, while on an artistic journey through the Balkans, the artists Nechama Levendel and Nadav Bloch were invited to exhibit their work in the municipal gallery of Ulcinj in Montenegro, on the border with Albania.
The gallery was located in a three-story stone building in the center of an archeological site in the old town of Ulcinj. On a preparatory visit to the gallery, the artists climbed to the third floor, where, to their amazement, they discovered a niche in one of the walls over which two Stars of David (Magen David) and on the facing wall two trees were engraved in the stone. The reply to their questions as to the origin of these symbols was that the building had served as the study house of the Messiah Shabtai Zvi and his followers.
Nechama and Nadav, as Jews and as artists, were intrigued by the subject and delved into the saga of the Messiah Shabtai Zvi, which had caused such a shock to the exiled and hunted 17th century Jewish communities. In the second half of the 17th century the Turkish Sultan banished Shabtai Zvi to the farthest corner of the Turkish Empire – the town of Ulcinj, then in Albania. Various sources tell that on Yom Kippur Shabtai Zvi went outside, recited "Shema Israel" and the mosque across the street collapsed, as Shabtai Zvi died.(read more...)
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