web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Reading Szyk’s Cards


King Saul, King of Spades by Arthur Szyk
Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art published by Historicana

King Saul, King of Spades by Arthur Szyk Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art published by Historicana

King Solomon represents the King of Hearts with a passive equanimity, gently holding his Song of Songs, his calm serenity expressing his legendary wisdom. Ruth as the Queen of Hearts is likewise sweetly self-possessed, a blond convert among all the other dark-haired Jews. John of Giscala (Yochanan ben Levi) as the Jack of Hearts presents a calm warrior; indeed his cunning allowed his strategic escape from Titus to take up the leadership of the Zealots in the final battle for Jerusalem. Unfortunately his latter history in the siege of Jerusalem was violent and divisive. Therefore it is hard to fit him into the pensive paradigm of the other two.

King Solomon, King of Hearts by Arthur Szyk
Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art published by Historicana

Finally the King of Diamonds is fittingly represented by King Hezekiah. Quite beyond his courage in resisting the brutal assault of the Assyrian Sennacherib on Jerusalem, it was King Hezekiah’s determined religious reforms and return to the worship of Hashem that earned him the praise that he: “trusted in the Lord the God of Israel; so that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah after him, or among those who were before him” (2 Kings 18:5). Defense of Torah similarly characterized Deborah as Queen of Hearts. She calmly holds a miniature scale representing her role as the only female Judge of Israel, one who wisely defended Israel in the face of the assaults of the Canaanite general Sisera. The choice of Simon Bar Giora as Jack of Diamonds does not fit the pattern he was a deeply violent leader during the Siege of Jerusalem, tragically contributing to the carnage and civil war that led to the defeat of the city in 70 CE.

Arthur Szyk’s “Playing Card Art” is a sensitive survey of what it means to be a Jewish hero. While indeed the series offers “the heroes of ancient Israel as the paradigm for Jewish survival and triumph over adversity” (Irvin Ungar), nonetheless the artist has presented a greatly nuanced view of Jewish leadership and its consequences, all in a format in which one can settle down to a friendly game of poker while pondering the complexity of Jewish history.

[I am indebted to the excellent catalogue by Allison Claire Chang on this series for background and historical perspective.]

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Reading Szyk’s Cards”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

Respler-052215

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

South-Florida-logo

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

Rabbi Yisroel Edelman, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, declared, “The Young Israel of Deerfield Beach is looking forward to our partnership with the OU. The impact the OU has brought to Jewish communities throughout the country through its outreach and educational resources is enormous and we anticipate the same for our community in Deerfield Beach as well.”

Our goal here is to offer you recipes that you can make on Yom Tov with ingredients you might just have in the house. Enjoy and chag sameach!

Gardening can be a healthy, wholesome activity for the whole family.

Unfortunately, the probability is that he will not see a reason to change as he has been acting this way for a long time and clearly has some issues with respecting women.

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

It’s hard not to be intrigued by recipes with names like Thanksgiving Stuffing Soup, Braised Chicken with Rhubarb Gravy and Vidalia Onion Fritters with Sambal Yogurt Dip.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/reading-szyks-cards/2012/11/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: