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Kestenbaum Auction Includes Several Hebrew Books With Decidedly un-Hebraic Iconography

20 Nisan 5769 – April 14, 2009
The title page to a 1610 edition of 12th-century poet and legal scholar, Eliezer ben Nathan's "Even Ha'ezer" ("Stone of Salvation," per I Samuel 7:12) features a woodcut that looks fairly standard at first glance. Two pillars flank the central alignment of the Hebrew text, and two birds perch atop the columns. Beneath the pillars are two lions and two hands, configured in the manner of the priestly blessing, with a gap between the joined index and middle fingers and the ring and small fingers. This combination of hands and lions constitutes the printing mark of Moses ben Bezalel Katz of Prague, who was a Kohen.

Wolloch Holocaust Haggadah

13 Nisan 5769 – April 7, 2009
We are taught: "In every generation one is obligated to regard himself as though he had gone out from Egypt." How difficult, what a leap of imagination for us in a free America, surrounded by friends and family, secure in our past and future yiddishkeit, to feel the terrors of long ago. Indeed we might forget, we might wish not to remember events in our own time and the time of our parents that were remarkably similar to the Egyptian horror. David Wander's Holocaust Haggadah reminds us with a somber art that is defiantly infused with hope and compassion.

Foreign Policy Of The Absurd

7 Nisan 5769 – April 1, 2009
If Iranian-Israeli relations are ever to improve, will the miracle originate amongst policymakers and trickle down to the masses, or will civilians grow so tired of the conflicts that they insist upon crafting their leadership in their own pacifistic image? This question is of course well above the pay grade of a column on Jewish arts, but it is central to Motti Lerner's "Benedictus," in a limited run at Theater J at the Washington DC JCC.

MFA Boston Vs. The Metropolitan Museum: Does The Bible Belong In Art Exhibits?

22 Adar 5769 – March 18, 2009
When Ephron the Hittite discussed a real estate transaction with Abraham in Genesis 23:10 that would secure the late Sarah a burial plot beside Adam and Eve, what was he wearing? How had Hittite art and interior design changed by the time David secretly sent Uriah the Hittite, husband of Bathsheba, to the front lines to die in 2 Samuel 11? When Achan - the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah - stole from the booty of the decimated city of Jericho in Joshua 7:1, what color was the Shinarite (Babylonian) cloak that he poached?

Is Asher Lev An Idolater?

8 Adar 5769 – March 4, 2009
A Chassidic prodigy alienates his community by painting nudes. When he dares to crucify his mother in two of his paintings, the Rebbe has no choice but to banish him from Brooklyn and ship him off to Paris. There is no escaping the provocative plot of Chaim Potok's 1972 novel, My Name is Asher Lev.

Seforim And Spirituality At Sotheby’s

1 Adar 5769 – February 25, 2009
The sea of people pouring out of the elevators on the tenth floor of Sotheby's varied greatly in their age, dress, and religious associations. But as they entered the exhibit, they shared a universal expression of awe and reverence. Thirteen thousand rare and ancient books looked down from the shelves and the crowd stared back in fascinated silence.

Seforim And Spirituality At Sotheby’s

The sea of people pouring out of the elevators on the tenth floor of Sotheby's varied greatly in their age, dress, and religious associations. But as they entered the exhibit, they shared a universal expression of awe and reverence. Thirteen thousand rare and ancient books looked down from the shelves and the crowd stared back in fascinated silence.

Falling Trees And Exploding Pomegranates: Ori Gersht’s Beautiful Yet Tragic Metaphors

24 Shevat 5769 – February 18, 2009
The young couple sitting behind me in the small black box theater at the Hirshhorn Museum could not stop giggling at Ori Gersht's film, "The Forest."

Falling Trees And Exploding Pomegranates: Ori Gersht’s Beautiful Yet Tragic Metaphors

The young couple sitting behind me in the small black box theater at the Hirshhorn Museum could not stop giggling at Ori Gersht's film, "The Forest."

Are There Jewish Aspects To Annie Leibovitz’s Photographs?

10 Shevat 5769 – February 4, 2009
The other photographers snapped their pictures of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the outgoing president as he boarded his helicopter, Marine One, officially marked "United States of America." But Annie Leibovitz took a different approach to her photo of the 37th president - the only one to resign in office.

A Word Is Worth 100 Pictures: Richard McBee Empowers The Biblical Sarah

25 Tevet 5769 – January 21, 2009
Writing a biography of the biblical Sarah, whether in text or images, is about as easy as hunting tigers in Africa or helping Pooh chase Heffalumps and Woozles.

A Light Unto The Nation: Benno Elkan’s Knesset Menorah

18 Tevet 5769 – January 14, 2009
While the heart of Israel's democracy is to be found in the Knesset in Jerusalem, just across the road is a quiet but persuasive work of art that sums up the awesome narrative of Jewish history that finally brought us to the Land of Israel.

Saying Hello Once Again, To Sholom Aleichem: Theodore Bikel Revives Tevye

11 Tevet 5769 – January 7, 2009
Generally, sequels are best avoided. It should not have taken three remakes to prove that the first "Planet of the Apes" was more than enough, and the movie-going public would have been far better off without repeats of films like "Legally Blonde" and "Weekend at Bernie's."

Chagall’s Influence: Mystical Storytelling at MOBIA: Chagall and the Russian Jewish Theater

4 Tevet 5769 – December 31, 2008
In 1931 Marc Chagall embarked on a series of etchings of the Bible that would become a pervasive, creative theme for the rest of his life.

Flying To The Moon: Michael Gleizer’s Paintings At The Chassidic Art Institute

27 Kislev 5769 – December 24, 2008
Michael Gleizer's work is unfortunately all too easy to pigeonhole. You are not likely to ever encounter it in the Whitney Biennial, and you had better not expect to see it selling for hundreds of millions alongside Damien Hirst's works at auction.

Flying To The Moon: Michael Gleizer’s Paintings At The Chassidic Art Institute

Michael Gleizer's work is unfortunately all too easy to pigeonhole. You are not likely to ever encounter it in the Whitney Biennial, and you had better not expect to see it selling for hundreds of millions alongside Damien Hirst's works at auction.

Did Chagall Know Hebrew?

13 Kislev 5769 – December 10, 2008
It's almost impossible to discuss Jewish art without mentioning Marc Chagall. One of nine children, Chagall was born in Vitebsk (now Belarus), which had about 20,000 Jews.

Is There A Theatrical Definition Of ‘Never Again’?

28 Heshvan 5769 – November 26, 2008
"Some of our most exquisite murders," Alfred Hitchcock famously observed, "have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like [at] the kitchen table."

Is There A Theatrical Definition Of ‘Never Again’?

"Some of our most exquisite murders," Alfred Hitchcock famously observed, "have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like [at] the kitchen table."

Was Oppenheimer A Defender Or Destroyer Of Worlds?

14 Heshvan 5769 – November 12, 2008
Jewish physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer's decision to move forward with the production of the atom bomb in 1945 represented the culmination of a moral dilemma of tremendous magnitude.

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