Much like the Jewish people themselves, the legacy of Jewish Art has miraculously survived seemingly endless assaults over the past two centuries.
A blue-skinned woman with at least one wing carries a caged dove in her right hand and has just released a golden bird from her other hand. Her hair is covered by a shawl that rests over a curved dagger (like the Yemenite jambiya) with a sheath decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag. A corner of the shawl becomes a pair of tzitzit whose strings are wrapped around a lion's arms and midsection, perhaps restraining it. The woman, who represents a self-portrait of the artist Siona Benjamin, stands on a white ball, which unravels to reveal not string but floral patterns that border the painting. Beneath her yellow skirt, the woman wears striped pants that evoke either the uniform of a prisoner or a concentration camp inmate.
Siona Benjamin is a most unusual artist determined to recast Jewish art as a dynamic, cross-cultural phenomenon.
If an Israeli settler and a Palestinian shopkeeper sat through Israeli playwright Ilan Hatsor's Masked, both might feel betrayed and misrepresented.
Kristallnacht, the pogrom unleashed by the Nazis on Germany's Jews on November 8, 1938, is considered by many to be the beginning of the Holocaust.
Just because the miracle of Chanukah defied physics doesn’t mean illustrations and illuminations of the Temple and Tabernacle menorahs haven’t grappled with the physics of flame orientation.
Lag B'Omer is a communal sigh of relief. Historically the plague that consumed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students in the second century did not include the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.
"You know, I don't really see so well anymore," said Tom Barron as we stood in Arthur Yanoff's Great Barrington studio, trying to safely navigate amongst the blizzard of paper shavings that littered the floor.
The megillahs beg to be illustrated. Each is associated with a notable holiday and each presents an idiosyncratic view of Jewish history and experience. Those that are not overtly narrative cry out to be narrated while the others present the most compelling stories imaginable. Song of Songs is scandalous until tamed by rabbinic interpretation; Koheles equally assaults a pious worldview, Eichah tears our hearts out, while Esther fills us with fear and pride. And finally Ruth causes us to examine the very foundations of the Messiah. Alas, their pictorial history is uneven.
The Temple gleams upon the horizon, a golden beacon signifying the finish line to the Jews' trek to serve G-d on the shalosh regalim.
Barbarism cannot triumph. This is what we believe, as Jews and as Americans.
The “Red Hot Chili Peppers” performed in Tel Aviv on Monday night, a decade after they canceled their show due to security issues. It was the group’s first visit to Israel, and to make the most of it, the members went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem straight from the airport. The band talked about Hillel Slovak, one of their founding members, who died from a drug overdose in the early 1990s.
It stands at 120 feet by 720 feet, and it weighs one million pounds.
"I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah," declares Maimonides in his Thirteen Principles of Faith, "and even if he tarries, nevertheless I shall await him any day that he might come."
An unshaven man stumbles onstage, clad in a raincoat covering his pajamas. He is barefoot and shuffles among the dried leaves that litter the stage area, a long rectangular set with the audience on either side. It is a most intimate performance area, uncomfortably so.
"I try to tell momma she won't get stolen. Her hair is not that nice.
Some people may believe Jewish Art is a simple endeavor. All you need is a Jew who makes art and voila, Jewish Art! I say to these cultural determinists, not so fast. You think Jewishness flows in the blood like chicken soup.
What do you get when you mix a Jesuit publishing company, a Reform Jewish scholar, an Orthodox Jewish painter, and a thesis on human-divine encounters?
The opening sentence of Saul Bellow's 1953 novel, The Adventures of Augie March, which begins, "I am an American, Chicago born - Chicago, that somber city - and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style," arguably did as much as any novel to put Chicago on this century's literary map.
That which sparkles and shines as it calls attention to a graceful neck or a shapely face possesses a timeless allure for all humanity.
“Man must make the Torah manifest” in every action, speech and creative act. That is clearly the credo of Nathan Hilu, master-artist of the Lower East Side, Torah, Tanach, midrash, Gemara and beyond.
Jewish art buffs might be disappointed by channel Thirteen's new 13-part series, Art Through Time: A Global View. It takes two entire episodes (one half an hour each) and part of the third episode for a reference to Jewish art to surface. This comes in the person of Shimon Attie (born in Los Angeles, 1957), whose The Writing on the Wall (1991-3) projected pre-Holocaust photographs onto the walls of buildings in the Jewish quarter of Berlin, the Scheunenviertel. Attie's projections, which were effectively before-and-after photos of particular buildings, are particularly haunting because they reveal how much the neighborhood has changed. Another work of Attie's that is discussed in the episode is Portrait of Exile (1995), which involved submerging light boxes with portraits of Danish refugees (who fled to Sweden during the Holocaust) in a canal in Copenhagen.
Jewish artists do the darndest things. The Chassidic Art Institute, expertly directed by Zev Markowitz, is currently showing the works of Venyamin Zaslavsky, a Ukrainian Jewish artist who has devoted the last 20 years to depictions of pious Jewish life in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
The arts are treasure throughout the year-even during the counting of the omer.
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story is a documentary about the life of a true Israeli hero. But the film is not a mere recounting of the famous Entebbe Raid, it is an honest retrospective of the life of the young, academic, passionate and poetic son, brother, friend, boyfriend, and husband Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu. And it shows a side of Israel that a 'Hasbara' campaign can't capture.