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Considering Dura: Part III The significance of the 3rd century Dura Europos synagogue murals paradoxically lies less in their historical importance as the earliest example of Jewish narrative art than in their role as a paradigm of what is possible for contemporary Jewish artists.  After…
The Braginsky Collection Five hundred years of Jewish manuscript and printed book illumination are presented in Highlights from the Braginsky Collection scheduled to open at Yeshiva University Museum on March 17, 2010.
Synagogues in Spain A few weeks ago we stayed at a hotel in Seville, Spain called Las Casas de la Juderia, literally the houses of the Jewish Quarter.  It was beautiful, right next to an old church called Santa Maria la Blanca that was in…
Leipzig Machzor: A Vision from the Past Seven hundred years ago in a synagogue in southwest Germany near the Rhine River, the chazzan opened a new machzor on Rosh Hashanah as he began Kol Nidrei.  The congregation glanced up and gasped as they saw the…
Esther’s Swoon Revealed Earlier this summer I went up to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see the blockbuster exhibition, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice.  While rarely have I seen as many masterpieces collected together in a traveling show, one painting stood…
Michelangelo and the Jews: Part II 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 of August 29th.   Now…
Michelangelo and the Jews: Part I 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. Millions of people visit each…
Poussin’s Bible Near the end of his long and productive life Nicolas Poussin was commissioned to paint in 1660 an unusual series of paintings called the Four Seasons.  They very quickly became some of the best known and beloved of his artworks; utilizing four scenes…
In Search of Images of Esther I was thinking about Esther the other day when I realized that there are almost no Jewish representations of our most favorite heroine and her story.  Now of course the tradition of illuminated megillas, many produced in the 17th…
Sarah’s Miscalculation Rembrandt’s etching, Abraham Entertaining the Angels is a pristine jewel of Biblical narrative.  The artist depicts the exact moment the story reveals its true meaning.  The guests have been comfortably seated and served refreshments by Abraham himself, shown humbly waiting on them in…
Caravaggio and Evil Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio (1571-1610) was well acquainted with evil.  His short violent life careened wildly between prestigious painting commissions from the most powerful men in Rome and drunken street brawls with the lowest of the low.
Why Pictures? Most Hebrew books have no pictures. Nobody misses them. In fact most books have no pictures, Hebrew or otherwise. The authority of the text is more than sufficient to communicate the ideas, sensations and emotions that literature specializes in. Picture books are ultimately…

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