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A Big Apple research institute has launched a “joint” effort — tracing the roots of marijuana back to the Bible.

The upcoming exhibition at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research near Union Square examines the historic relationship between The Chosen People and cannabis.

‘High’lights of the display will include objects repurposed for cannabis consumption, such as a menorah-shaped bong, and the “Tokin’ Jew” seder plate.

It was the bong that first sparked the interest of Eddy Portnoy, the exhibit’s curator. He asked the pipe’s maker, Grav, to donate one to the institute as an artifact of Jewish culture.

 “I thought to myself there’s probably more out there like this,” Portnoy said. “I began to do research and not only did I find a lot more artifacts … but I discovered this whole history of Jews and cannabis that had really been unknown to me and probably a lot of other people.”

Curator Eddy Portnoy with a book from the exhibit.
Curator Eddy Portnoy with a book from the exhibit.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post
A yarmulke decorated with cannabis leaves.
A yarmulke decorated with cannabis leaves.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post

That history goes back to the Old Testament in a passage in the book of Exodus about an altar for burning incense with herbs including kaneh bosem, which is thought to be cannabis, he said.

The exhibit will even feature a kind of purchase order for pot, dating to the 1200s. The document, which was found in a Cairo synagogue in the 1800s, shows the letter writer asking for textiles and hashish in exchange for silver, Portnoy said.

That document, and others from the cache, will be reproduced for the exhibit, including a poem poking fun at people who smoke hashish saying, “They eat everything in sight.”

A menorah-shaped bong sparked Portnoy's interest in Jews and cannabis.
A menorah-shaped bong sparked Portnoy’s interest in Jews and cannabis.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post
An illustration of cannabis from a Hebrew dictionary.
An illustration of cannabis from a Hebrew dictionary.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post
The exhibition is called "Am Yisrael High," a play on the slogan "Am Yisrael Chai."
The exhibition is called “Am Yisrael High,” a play on the slogan “Am Yisrael Chai.”
Steve Marcus

“It’s this weird sort of early 15th-century reference to the munchies,” Portnoy said.

The exhibit also talks about notable Jewish figures in the cannabis canon, including Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam, who was the first to isolate THC — the compound that provides marijuana’s high and CBD which is believed to have medicinal properties — and Jack Here, the so-called “Emperor of Hemp,” who fought to legalize weed.

YIVO’s exhibit opens on May 5 and kicks off with a panel discussion moderated by Portnoy. The exhibition is called “Am Yisrael High,” a play on the slogan “Am Yisrael Chai,” which means, “The people of Israel live.”

A "Tokin' Jew" seder plate from the exhibit.
A “Tokin’ Jew” seder plate from the exhibit.
Helayne Seidman for NY Post

“The exhibit takes the subject seriously and a lot of research was done, but because it’s cannabis there was the possibility to have a little bit of fun with it,” Portnoy said.

Source: NYPOST

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