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Sotheby’s Jewish Vision

23 Tevet 5771 – December 30, 2010
Every year in the early winter the world-renowned auction house, Sotheby's, presents an auction of Israeli and International (Jewish) Art and Judaica. It is always a delight and Sunday, December 12 was no exception. Since it is an international affair, the foremost experts assemble the finest artworks available. The efforts of specialists Rivka Saker, Sigal Mordechai, Daria Gluck, Esta Kilstein and Jennifer Roth of Sotheby's Israel and Jennifer Roth, Sharon Liberman Mintz, David Wachtel, Elizabeth Muller, John Ward, Jill Waddell, Kevin Tierney here in New York were well rewarded. It was a truly exciting exhibition that frequently surprised one with new insights into many familiar artists.

Jewish Ingratitude To Evangelicals

17 Kislev 5771 – November 24, 2010
Every year Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raises about $100 million, mostly from evangelical Christians in the United States, for distribution to social-welfare projects in Israel and the former Soviet Union. This is a staggering sum, making the fellowship arguably the largest foundation for Jews in need in the world.

A Non-Jew’s 1841 Impressions Of Shearith Israel

26 Heshvan 5771 – November 3, 2010
Lydia Maria (nee Francis) Child (February 11, 1802-Oct. 20, 1880) was educated at home, at a local "dame school" and at a nearby women's seminary. After her mother died when she was twelve, she went to live with an older sister in Maine for some years. She is little known today, but in her time she was a famous anti-slavery activist. She was also a novelist, editor, journalist and scholar. She is best remembered for her poem "Over the River and Through the Woods," which recalls her Thanksgiving visits as a child to her grandfather's home.

Southern Jews and the Confederacy

17 Av 5770 – July 28, 2010
Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell's recent proclamation of Confederate History Month provoked a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing him and those who commemorate their Southern ancestors' bravery of ignoring or even defending slavery.

Miracle Baby: Hope And Comfort From Above

4 Av 5770 – July 15, 2010
My daughter, Slovie Jungreis Wolff, author of, Raising a Child With Soul, conducts our Hineni parenting classes. A very painful situation befell one of the young couples that attend her seminars. Like a bolt out of the blue, their five-year-old little girl was struck by devastating illness - a brain tumor. Lily (Leah Chana), an adorable precious child, fought bravely throughout endless tests, procedures, and treatments. My daughter visited her and was awed by her faith and courage. Her story impacted on the entire class, and everyone committed to more mitzvos, prayer and tzedakah on her behalf.

Moses’ Spies in Art

20 Sivan 5770 – June 2, 2010
Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman's Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst's illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst's drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

Moses’ Spies in Art

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman's Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst's illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst's drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

Is There A Jewish Tradition About The Shape Of The Tablets Of The Ten...

7 Iyyar 5770 – April 21, 2010
Nearly six and a half centuries before McDonald's first introduced its iconic logo designed by Jim Schindler, artists had already invented the double-humped shape. The Flemish painter Michiel van der Borch's 1332 manuscript illustration "Moses receives the Tables of the Law" shows a haloed prophet, his hair twisted into horns, carrying his staff and wearing a red robe as he reaches out to receive the Ten Commandments from God. Hundreds of medieval manuscript illuminations, as well as dozens of paintings by Chagall, feature the same rounded layout.

Hailing Turner’s Pestilence: Is The Artist’s Fifth Plague of Egypt Really A Typo?

14 Nisan 5770 – March 29, 2010
In an instance of form following content, Joseph Mallord William Turner's "The Fifth Plague of Egypt" was recently exiled from its home at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the exhibit "J.M.W. Turner," which was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, in association with London's Tate Britain. According to the wall texts from both the exhibit and the painting's permanent home in Indianapolis, the title Turner selected for his biblical study features one of art history's greatest typos.

Hailing Turner’s Pestilence: Is The Artist’s Fifth Plague of Egypt Really A Typo?

In an instance of form following content, Joseph Mallord William Turner's "The Fifth Plague of Egypt" was recently exiled from its home at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for the exhibit "J.M.W. Turner," which was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, in association with London's Tate Britain. According to the wall texts from both the exhibit and the painting's permanent home in Indianapolis, the title Turner selected for his biblical study features one of art history's greatest typos.

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.

All Dolled Up For The Holidays

1 Nisan 5769 – March 26, 2009
"My mother always made the Jewish holidays lots of fun when we were growing up, so is it any wonder I started my own Judaica business?"

Title: Unlocking the Torah Text: Shmot: An In-depth Journey into the Weekly Parsha

25 Tevet 5769 – January 21, 2009
The secret to making a good sequel to a book is to make one that is original, yet effectively ties into the previous title.

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

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.

Michelangelo And The Jews: Part II

10 Elul 5768 – September 10, 2008
The Sistine Secrets by Benjamin Blech and Roy Doliner raises many intriguing issues about one of the most important works of Western art and its creator, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564) as first presented in my review on August 29.

Michelangelo And The Jews

26 Av 5768 – August 27, 2008
The Sistine Chapel in Rome is at the very heart of the Roman Catholic universe, the pope's private chapel in the Vatican and, notably, is one of the most famous tourist sites in history.

A Confrontation Between Image and Text

20 Tammuz 5768 – July 23, 2008
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?

Pharaoh Lives

9 Iyyar 5768 – May 14, 2008
"If you do not let my people go," says Moses to Pharaoh, "all of Egypt will be filled with frogs."

New Books On Chumash

12 Adar II 5768 – March 19, 2008
Ktav has recently brought out a series of books on Chumash that enrich our understanding and appreciation of the Book of Books.

Moses And Daniel Peixotto

23 Shevat 5768 – January 30, 2008
The Peixotto family played a prominent role in the American Jewish community during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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