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October 13, 2015 / 30 Tishri, 5776
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American and Biblical Forefathers

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Malcah Zeldis: New York Artist

Through October 18, 2010

American Folk Art Museum

2 Lincoln Square, New York





Malcah Zeldis’ watercolor painting “Jacob’s Dream” (1982) is the only representation I know of the patriarch that represents him as bearded man with no moustache. The pink-skinned dreamer in Zeldis’ painting wears a robe that evokes the technicolored dream coat his son Joseph would wear, and he sleeps on a hill using what the Bible describes as rocks (but Zeldis renders more as books) for pillows. In the background of the work, which belongs to the genre of na?ve art, one can spot the bundles of grain and the celestial objects that would later figure into Joseph’s dream. As Jacob dreams of the changing of the angelic guard, Zeldis seems to say, he lays the foundation for Joseph’s dreams of his own rise to power. The angels that ascend and descend the “ladder” – which is very flimsy and would surely not comply with fire codes – are red-headed and blue-eyed, and their wings sag at their sides like sacks over their shoulders.


Malcah Zeldis. “Jacob’s Dream.” 1982. Watercolor on paper. 11

About the Author: Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

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