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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Museum’

Updated: 3 Killed in Brussels Jewish Museum Shooting

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Two men and a woman were killed in a shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum on Saturday morning. A fourth person who was seriously injured is in the hospital.

Twelve people were treated for shock.

Belgium’s interior minister told Belgian TV that the attack might be anti-Semitic.

Witnesses say the attack was done by a single shooter.

Belgium media is reporting that a suspect has been arrested, and police are looking for a second suspect.

42,000 Jews live in Brussels.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the attack was the result of the unending incitement against Jews and the state of Israel, in Europe.

Anti-Israel Blogger Defends His Racism Against Black Zionist

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The Jewish Press first featured Chloé Simone Valdary on our site over a year ago. She is the African American Christian Zionist student founder and president of the University of New Orleans’ Allies for Israel. She helped organize and also ran a major pro-Israel event there last spring.

Valdary has only become more sophisticated and deeply devoted to Israel over the past year.

She’s been to Israel several times, attended numerous pro-Israel events, written sophisticated op-eds, articles and prose about the Middle East.

In addition to being a junior at the University of New Orleans, Valdary is also the assistant director of special programs at the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel. She is also currently in the final stages of preparation for her second major pro-Israel event, Declare Your Freedom, to be held in New Orleans this spring.

This past week an outcry arose from New York Israel supporters when it was discovered that the Jewish Museum in New York City planned to provide a platform for Judith Butler, well-known member of the virulently anti-Israel crowd.

Butler last aroused an outcry when she spoke in favor of the BDS movement at Brooklyn College, almost a year ago. BDS is the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel, which promotes economic and legal warfare against the Jewish State.

Valdary wrote a letter to Brooklyn College students last year, urging them to rise up and speak out against that anti-Israel event.

Many active in the New York City area pro-Israel community met Valdary when the college student was recently in New York. She, along with this unofficial yet effective group, was part of the emailing, phone calling and tweeting against Butler that resulted in the Jewish Museum rescinding its offer of a platform for Judith Butler at the Jewish Museum.

In a blog entry Valdary penned at the Times of Israel, she called out Butler for her anti-Semitism, and included herself in the “we” of Zionists. Her article was published on Feb. 21. This is the final paragraph:

So in this endeavor for morality and justice, we, the proud Zionist community of America, rose up. We lit up the phone lines of the Jewish Museum in New York and demanded that this event be canceled. We organized on social media, we emailed, we protested. We, this people, with a history, and a creed, and a culture, and a cause,  which we intend to perpetuate with every fiber of our being, rose up and affected positive and meaningful change. And we have every intention to continue this fight for the right to be free.

Not surprisingly, those who support Butler’s view of the Middle East conflict, those who support the BDS movement and who are willing to “understand” what drives the terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, do not agree with Valdary.

Richard Silverstein, however, a fairly well-known, member of the Israel-is-always-wrong clan but who is generally considered to be too much of a crackpot to invite a response from Israel supporters, crossed a line that shocked many, even considering Silverstein’s inglorious history.

In a tweet sent at 8:48 ET, on Feb. 21, Silverstein suggested Valdary was manipulated by Zionists, referred to her as a “Negro,” and wrote that she would be making “Uncle Tom” dance with joy, presumably because he saw her pro-Israel activities as sucking up to white folks. This is the tweet:

Anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein uses racial slurs to attack an African American Zionist

Anti-Israel blogger Richard Silverstein uses racial slurs to attack an African American Zionist

NYC’s Jewish Museum Invites, then Uninvites, Major BDS Advocate

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Most of the New York City pro-Israel community was upset, but not shocked, when Brooklyn College invited two of the best known advocates for legal and economic warfare (the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) to be featured speakers at an event last year.

But this past week most of those same people were both upset and shocked when they learned that New York City’s Jewish Museum had invited and was going to feature one of those same speakers: Judith Butler, the Berkeley professor known primarily as a leader in the fields of “gender, power, sexuality and identity theory.”

Butler is not only a huge supporter of the BDS movement, she has also spoken sympathetically about the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah.

On March 6, Judith Butler was slated to give a “performance” of Franz Kafka, as one in a series of three programs entitled “Wish You Were Here.”  The series features “interviews” of Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, conducted by the museum’s deputy director Jens Hoffmann.

Although Butler has written about Kafka, it is not what she is known for. Queer theory? Yes. Gender identity? Yes. Power theory and subjugation? Sure. Franz Kafka? Not so much.

The focus of Butler’s recent work on Kafka is a labored effort to distance the man from the category labeled Zionist. That article, “Who Owns Kafka?” addresses the trial over who owned the rights to Kafka’s unpublished manuscripts,  after his death. The State of Israel was one of the parties seeking ownership, partially based on the claim that Kafka was an “asset” of the Jewish people.

Butler’s abiding distaste for Israel drove her to prove that Kafka was not a Zionist (based primarily on his not emigrating, although discriminatory quotas and Kafka’s own tuberculosis probably played a larger role) in order to prevent the Jewish people from claiming him as an asset, and his manuscripts from ending up in Israel.

Most non-literary theorist New Yorkers, however, were not aware of the Butler anti-Zionist Kafka connection. But her reputation as a leader of the BDS movement, and as sympathetic to terrorist groups committed to wiping out the Jewish state, were sufficient motivations for action.

The calls and outcries reached a crescendo on Thursday, Feb. 20.

The Jewish Museum could not hide behind the false, but frequently invoked, veil of “academic freedom” to hide behind, as had the Brooklyn College administration. And the Jewish Museum could not point fingers at students who insisted that a hater of Israel be invited in, and doted upon, by the people who run the Jewish Museum.

There was no getting around it, the Jewish Museum of New York City, an institution that was founded in, and remains under the auspices of  the Conservative movement of American Judaism, the Jewish Theological Seminary, deliberately chose to showcase a person whose animosity towards Israel was well known.

Judith Butler is most often described as an “American philosopher” and a “gender, power, sexuality and identity theorist.” She is a professor at the University of California at Berkely, in the department of comparative literature.

Although, according to her Berkeley webpage, Butler has recently taught a course on Kafka, her overwhelming focus and interest is sexuality, queer theory and feminist theory. Of the more than a dozen books Butler authored, none are about Kafka or his writing.

“How ironic that a Museum which is a scion of one of the three American Jewish movements, in this case, the JTS; and how ironic that a Museum whose heritage begins with Jews of German origin, where boycotts preceded our extermination in Europe – how ironic that such a museum would feature a leading advocate of boycotts of the Jewish people,” Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a New York City businessman and leader of New York’s pro-Israel Jewish community told The Jewish Press.

Polish Righteous Gentile Donates Memorabilia to Jewish Museum

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

A Polish historian and statesman who was imprisoned at Auschwitz and recognized as a Righteous Gentile for saving Jews in World War II has donated a collection of his memorabilia to a museum in Poland.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 91 and a  former member  of the underground “Żegota” Polish Council to Aid Jews during the Holocaust, presented his donations to the new Museum of the History of Polish Jewish in Warsaw at a ceremony on Wednesday.

He also has twice served as Poland’s foreign minister and has held other senior positions and received many international honors.

The museum said the memorabilia include his Righteous among Nations medal, which he received in 1966; a certificate of his planting of a tree in honor of “Żegota” at Yad Vashem; his honorary citizenship of the State of Israel; the Elie Wiesel Award, which he received this year from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington; an original ring made in the Litzmannstadt (Lodz) Ghetto; as well as various books and historical documents from the period of World War II.

“One never knows what will and what will not pay off in life, but one always knows what is worth doing,” he said during the ceremony, recalling his experience in “Żegota.”

Putin Visits Russian Jewish Museum

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian dignitaries joined Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar for a special tour of the Russian Jewish Museum of Tolerance, considered the largest Jewish museum in the world.

Federation of Jewish Communities president Alexander Boroda also was present to escort Putin at the museum exhibits in the 90,000-square-foot former bus garage. The $50 million facility opened last year after four years of construction. The museum is intended to explore Jewish civilization and its cultural foundations and achievements, while advancing tolerance and harmony.

Vienna Jewish Museum Contains Looted Objects, Officials Say

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Officials from the Jewish Museum of Vienna said that hundreds of objects in the museum’s possession were looted from Jewish families during the Holocaust.

A review of the artifacts found 490 objects and more than 980 books that may have been stolen from Jewish owners, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

“For historic reasons, people did not see themselves responsible for investigating the collection referring to provenance,” Christian Kircher, a member of the museum’s board, told the newspaper. “This attitude changed completely during the last few years.”

Museum officials said that researching the origin of Judaica can be quite difficult, given the few identifying markers and the fact that most Jewish institutions that existed before the Holocaust were destroyed. They also cited the lack of funds for such research.

“Our situation is not comparable to any other museum in Austria,” said Danielle Spera, who became the museum director in 2010.

“Anything that was acquired illegally ought to be returned,” she told the Austrian Der Standard daily last month. “There will not be a hint of hesitation.”

Crossing Borders: Masterpieces from the Bodleian Library

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Jewish Museum: 1109 Fifth Avenue @ 92nd Street www.thejewishmuseum.org – 212 423 3200 Until February 3, 2013

In the eyes of the ram lies the artist’s commentary on the Rosh Hashanah piyyut “The King Girded with Strength.” From the Tripartite Mahzor (German 14th century), this illumination simultaneously echoes the piyyut’s praise of God’s awesome power and expresses the terror of actually being a sacrifice to God. The ram is but a reflection of Isaac. It is all in the eyes.

Nearby another German Mahzor (14th century) is open to the same piyyut,here illuminated in a simpler manner: Isaac is on the altar ready to be slaughtered, Abraham heeds the angel and a collection of medieval grotesques, animals and men react to the horrible event. God’s strength is reflected in the ability to summon obedience to a deadly command.

Mahzor (14th century) “King Girded with Might”
Courtesy Bodleian Library & Jewish Museum

Two very different interpretations of the same piyyut probably created within decades of one another. And are both shown at the Jewish Museum’s “Crossing Borders,” an exhibition of medieval manuscripts from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. This extraordinary exhibition presents the vibrant cross-cultural influences in the creation of medieval Hebrew manuscripts in the context of both Christian and Islamic cultural production. Additionally it explores the fascinating relationship between text and image in illuminated manuscripts.

The exhibition opens with three radically different manuscripts. A Hebrew Bible from Tudela (or Soria), Spain by artist and scribe Joshua ibn Gaon of Soria, (c.1300) displays the overwhelming Islamic decorative influence in Spain at the time. The facing carpet pages brilliantly shows interlocking abstract designs, one framed by a textual border, the other a heavy gold-leaf frame.

Michael Mahzor (1258) piyyut for Shabbos Shekalim
Courtesy Bodleian Library & Jewish Museum

Next is the earliest known dated and illustrated Mahzor (1257-1258) from Germany open to the page with the special piyyut for Shabbos Shekalim. The initial word panel is illuminated with an intriguing stag hunt scene featuring the two hunters whose helmets cover their faces. This sensitivity about depicting the human face is seen throughout this Mahzor and likely reflects a lingering concern over the second commandment that flourished in southern Germany in the 1230’s. But most surprisingly is the fact that the whole charming scene is depicted upside down! One reason given in the original catalogue essay by Eva Frojmovic for this singular depiction has been attributed to a Christian artist’s mistake, being unable to read the Hebrew text, and assumed it worked better upside down with the image centered at the bottom of the page. The curator of the Jewish Museum installation, Claudia Nahson, more plausibly explains that this upside down scene may be a reflection of the piyyut being recited right before Purim, when everything is “turned upside down,” especially in the narrative of the oppressed and hunted Jews.

Finally, the “Even HaEzer” (1438) from the Arba’ah Turim of Jacob ben Asher (the Tur) reveals sumptuous early Italian Renaissance manuscript illuminations. Gold leaf abounds amid peacocks, exotic birds and fantastic creatures surround the text “It is not good for man to be alone…” echoing the depiction of the creation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adam lies asleep as a winged Creator, complete with halo, kneels next to him, about to extract Eve from his side. On the right we see Adam and Eve poised before the forbidden tree and the tempting snake. The extremely unusual depiction of the Deity in a Hebrew manuscript reflects the highly acculturated nature of the Italian Jewish community almost certainly working with a Christian artist.

In these intriguing examples one can treat the visual as decorative and incidental to the text, thereby discounting the inherent and potentially disruptive meaning of the images. Or one can attempt to integrate image and text and see them in a creative relationship, effectively arriving at a new meaning of both text and image. Considering the enormous cost of illuminating manuscripts, the competition with surrounding non-Jewish elites, and the fact that manuscripts with such subversive images continued to be prized and used, I cannot believe for a moment such images were anything but intentional.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/crossing-borders-masterpieces-from-the-bodleian-library/2012/11/09/

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