Shuki Levy has felt connected to the mountain of Masada since he was a young child, when he first visited the mountain on a school field trip. This desert fortress, originally built by Herod the Great, is the best preserved Roman-era fortress in the world. It is also the historical site of a major Jewish revolt. According to Jewish historian Josephus, the last of Judea’s rebels against Rome lived on top of Masada for a period of several months. These Sicarrii rebels and their families eventually took their own lives rather than fall into the hands of the Romans during the Great Revolt in 73 or 74 CE.
For decades, the artifacts discovered at Masada were stored away from public view at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Through his nonprofit Foundation Shuki Levy opened the Yigal Yadin Museum at Masada, giving these artifacts a permanent home. The museum is named for archaeologist Yigal Yadin, who excavated the mountain in the 1960’s with his archaeological team.
Since childhood, Shuki has wanted to share the history of Masada with people of all faiths and backgrounds. In addition to building the museum, he also composed a stage musical inspired by Masada. In the production, a troupe of Jewish actors living in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II perform the story of Masada as an act of resistance. “Imagine This” debuted in London’s West End in 2008; the filmed version is often shown on PBS, and the stage musical continues to be performed by theatre troupes throughout the world. The museum at Masada opened with a stunning event that included a stage concert featuring songs from the musical.
The Yigal Yadin Museum at Masada opened on May 3, 2007. The museum is designed theatrically, allowing visitors to experience the story of Masada in a personal, immersive way. The guided audio tour includes a soundtrack composed by Shuki. The Foundation’s gift of the museum will help future generations learn and experience the historical events of Masada.