Writings

Gad Almaliah

Written on February 05, 2002

We Were All Slaves (2001) construction by Gad Almaliah

Life on the Book
Constructions by Gad Almaliah

The Land of Israel was possessed by a terrible drought and prayer was necessary. “It happened that the people said to Honi the Circle Drawer, pray for rain to fall…He prayed and no rain fell. What did he do? He drew a circle and stood within it and exclaimed, Master of the Universe, thy children have turned to me because they believe me to be as a member of thy household; I swear by Thy great Name that I will not move from here until Thou has mercy upon Thy children. Rain then began to drip, and thereupon he exclaimed: It is not for this that I have prayed but for rain [to fill] cisterns, ditches and caves. The rain then began to come down with great force, and thereupon he exclaimed, it is not for this that I have prayed but for rain of benevolence, blessing and bounty. Rain then fell in the normal way…(Taanis 3:8)”

Micrography - The Hebrew Word As Art
At The Library Of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Written on January 09, 2002

Omer Calendar (1825) Italy Courtesy of the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America

The visual image is not a problem in Judaism. We have countless examples of images and representations of Jewish subjects and ideas done by pious Jews throughout the centuries, whether as ancient synagogue mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, synagogue wall decorations or paintings. But, in spite of this evidence, there is a parallel Jewish sensitivity to images.

Biblical Paintings by John Bradford

Written on December 17, 2001

I'm Here

Biblical Paintings - American Identity
An Appreciation

“And though I cannot attain to much herein, yet I am refreshed to have seen some glimpse thereof (as Moses saw the Land of Canaan afar off.) My aim and desire is to see how the words and phrases lie in the holy text; and to discern somewhat of the same for my own account.”

Bezalel - 92 Years Survey at the Yeshiva University Museum

Written on December 11, 2001

I'm Here

The Power of Ritual Objects
92 Years of Judaica at Bezalel

When one lights that very special menorah or breathes deeply near a hand-crafted besomiah at havdalah, one releases the “power of the ritual object and [confronts] the questions it raises.” Such Judaica is the “intersection of belief and art,” a veritable cornucopia of meanings and esthetic delights. Such is the experience at 92 Years of Judaica at Bezalel, Continuity and Change, currently at the Yeshiva University Museum as expressed by the curator, Muli Ben Sasson.

The Bialystoker Synagogue - Astrological Paintings

Written on October 30, 2001

View from the Balcony

Mazel Tov

The Bialystoker Synagogue

“And God made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to dominate the day and the lesser luminary to dominate the night; and the stars.’ (Genesis 1:16).” And it was so, sun, moon and stars, for all time. These basic elements of the order of creation are wonderfully integrated into the elaborate decorations found in the Bialystoker Synagogue on the Lower East Side. What is intriguing is that this synagogue not only possesses wonderful artworks, but also an array of incongruities and surprises that reveals the diversity, creativity and strength of the New York Jewish community.

Deller Succah Paintings
At The Israel Museum

Written on September 30, 2001

Deller Succah Sacrifice of Isaac Detail

Ha’norah

On Shabbos evening I walked home on my normal route down Fifth Avenue towards Washington Square Park. Looking past the Washington Square Arch, slightly to the west and further downtown, I noticed a glow of lights and smoke illuminating the early evening sky. That was where the World Trade Center used to be.

Rembrandt In Berlin - Moses Breaking The Tablets Of The Law

Written on September 25, 2001

Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law (1659) Detail; Oil on canvas by Rembrandt

Connections
Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s Moses reaches up grasping the Tablets of the Law as he descends the holy mountain. Firmly rooted in the mundane, the painting presents us with a startlingly image of Moses’ initial journey down the mountain, carrying the first Tablets aloft, simultaneously displaying the prized gift and threatening to destroy God’s handiwork.

Beit Alpha Mosaics of The Akeidah

Written on September 12, 2001

Zodiac Section

Suspended

A figure in the primitive mosaic is depicted suspended in mid-air, seeming to flee his father’s grasp and yet hovering dangerously close to an all consuming fire. It is our forefather Isaac, depicted as a small lad with his hands bound, and in some way; it is all of us.

The Paintings of Leah Ashkenazy

Written on September 04, 2001

 The Necklace (1999)Oil painting on canvas by Leah Ashkinazi (36” X 24”)

You see, there is just something about that little girl that I can’t get out of my mind. How does she face those fire-breathing beasts? Her certainty shakes me and leave me sleepless. Is it because the two monsters threaten the funny little house with the all-seeing eyes and yet mysteriously ignore the little girl. Again the little girl. How can she calmly walk in the field, just off the road yet, and not run from the terrible monsters that hover over her?

Zamir Chorus of Contemporary Jewish Music

Written on July 24, 2001

Children’s choir in Warsaw Ghetto, Lag ba-Omer 1942 Courtesy Yad Vashem Archives, Jerusalem

 

We live in an age of longing. An age of intense longing one thousand nine hundred and twenty nine years old. We get up from Tisha b’Av not consoled, but resigned to a harsh exile of longing, no matter how comfortable we may be personally. And yet there is hope. Not only the hope that we constantly place in the ribbono shel olam, but the hope that we actually experience. At special large gatherings of Jews we can taste the joy of the ingathering from the four corners of the earth to rejoice in a rebuilt Temple.

Precious Illuminated Manuscripts
At The Library Jewish Theological Seminary

Written on June 12, 2001

Kitaj Jewish Rider

When you see a talmid chacham pass by, you stand up to honor him and his learning. You then return to your own learning inspired to do more and to learn deeper. The same holds true of an artist visiting a great art museum. One stands in awe of a masterpiece and returns to the studio inspired and invigorated by the creativity one has witnessed.

Early Chagall At Jewish Museum

Written on June 05, 2001

Jew in Bright Red

Chagall in Mother Russia

If you didn't know this was the famous Chagall, and if you didn't know Chagall was going to become perhaps the greatest Jewish painter of the twentieth century; what would you think of the early works of this artist when he lived in Russia as a student and young man? A collection of early work (most never seen before outside of Russia) in "Marc Chagall - Early Works from Russian Collections" currently at the Jewish Museum allows us to examine a small portion of his work and see him in isolation before he became one of the big international names of modern art.

John Yang - Mount Zion Gravestone Portraits

Written on May 06, 2001

Pictures from Beyond

“He sustains the living with kindness, resuscitates the dead with abundant mercy, …and maintains His faith to those asleep in the dust.” We have this faith in our God. And, as we can, we emulate Him. We remember and maintain faith with those asleep in the dust. We carry on their names in the naming of our children, pass on their midos with tales of wonderful grandparents and we maintain faith with them by saying kaddish for at least two generations. And we, of course, set up a marker were they are resting. Sometimes we have even done more on that very marker. This exhibition, Mount Zion, Immortal Portraits, at the John Stevenson Gallery in Chelsea, is one of those ways.

Vermeer And The Jews
At The Metropolitan Museum

Written on April 02, 2001

The Courtyard of a House in Delft (1658) Oil on canvas by Pieter de Hooch The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Lent by The National Gallery, London

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), one of the great masters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting, had nothing to do with the Jews. At least not directly. But I think that his work, shown here at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the historical context of the Delft School, actually has a considerable Jewish content that, once discovered, will be seen to be at the core of his creative process.

Rylands Haggadah Part II

Written on March 19, 2001

Dayainu (f.29b) The Rylands Haggadah (mid-14th Century Catalonia)

The Rylands Haggadah A Cry from Catalonia, Part II

In the late 1300’s a masterpiece of Jewish Art was produced in Northeastern Spain in Catalonia. Over the years this Jewish community had been subject to increasing hostility from their Christian rulers in the form of repressive decrees, forced sermons and conversions. In 1391 lawless mobs attacked and massacred Jews in Barcelona and many other Spanish cities. The Rylands Haggadah (the original is currently at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, England and a facsimile was published in 1988) represents a unique insight into the tumultuous Medieval Jewish world of Catalonia and Provence.