The Art of Lions and Horses
Jewish art has taken on vastly different forms throughout the many eras of history. Yet one particularly unusual method of Jewish art is almost never discussed: carving. Jewish carvings can be seen in many synagogues today, but they are also found in an unexpected source: carousels. Jewish Art Education's newest program will discuss this unique art form and how it was used by European Jewish artists.
S. Ansky, born Shlomo-Zanvil Rappaport in 1863 in Vitebsk, now Belarus. He was a political revolutionary and an ethnographer who came to the realization that a centuries-old Jewish life was about to disappear as his contemporaries adopted modern lifestyles.
After traveling abroad, he returned to St. Petersburg in 1905 and affiliated with the Jewish Historic-Ethnographic Society. By 1912, he had conceived and organized a two-year ethnographic expedition to survey Ukrainian Jewish life. Their aim was to collect Jewish art and material culture that would become the basis of a Jewish museum in St. Petersburg.
Ansky produced THE JEWISH ARTISTIC HERITAGE ALBUM, which established Jewish art as a reality. This exhibition fulfills Ansky’s hope that the past serve as a basis for the art of the future, both in the sense that Jewish carvers who came to North America continued to practice their art in synagogues here, and that they embraced new forms using traditional artistic techniques.
All images and text are from the catalog of an exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. It is titled: Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses, and was written in 2007 by Zimiles, M.
The Washington Jewish Week visited one of Myrna Teck's lectures on the Art of the High Holidays and talked to Myrna and Executive Director Robert Barkin about JAE and our new Jewish Art in Jewish Classrooms. In her article, writer Lisa Traiger focused on the question of defining Jewish art. We're sure you will like this close-up look at Jewish Art Education and our plans for the future. It is also downloadable as a PDF.
Jewish Art in Classrooms Project Advances
Since announcing our project to use the visual arts to teach our children about Jewish customs and practices, we have received overwhelming support for Jewish Art in Jewish Classrooms.
We are pleased to tell you that we are pushing forward with this important initiative, a project that will make a huge difference in how our children understand their Jewish identity. (See more details on the project.)
Since the announcement just before the High Holidays, we have hired a professional curriculum writer with experience in both Jewish education and the visual arts to develop our classroom program and begun work on the accompanying short film.
We have also heard from rabbis who have worked in this area, as well as many educators who have validated our concept for teaching important Jewish practices. We are confident that we will find an enthusiastic audience for our materials.
This initiative is all the more important because of the recent findings of a Pew Research Center study that found that Jewish identity is changing in America. The study noted strong Jewish pride, but also found that increasing numbers of self-described Jews also declared that they have no religion.
JAJC is directly focused on tying together this sense of pride to the important concepts of religious practice and civilization, with the purpose of promoting Jewish continuity.