June 18, 2019 •
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History Through Text with Rabbi Kulwin

Jews, Art and Jewish Art
HISTORY THRU TEXT -2019logoHistory Through Text with Rabbi Kulwin


Each class is a stand-alone unit so that an inability to attend all (or even most) of the sessions will not be an impediment to an enjoyable and stimulating learning experience. Free and open to the community.
Jews, Art and Jewish Art
The Ten Commandments insist that we are not to make graven images. Nevertheless, graphic arts—to say nothing of music, literature and other artistic forms—have long been associated with Jews and Jewish life. The Torah itself contains prose and poetry of unparalleled beauty; a Renaissance rabbi “proved” that all orchestra instruments were found in the Bible; and Marc Chagall is on anyone’s list of the greatest painters of the 20th Century.
We will examine Jewish writings about art, and works of art themselves, to try to understand Judaism’s historic relationship with art, and the prominence art enjoys in Jewish life today.

History Through text has been completed! Thank you Rabbi Kulwin for a fabulous series!

  • Art and the Torah—The Torah contains texts about art, and many believe it is a work of art itself. We will look at both perspectives.
  • Art and the Rabbis—Through the reading of Talmudic texts, we will learn about the unease the rabbis felt about art, even as many of them yet had a sense of aesthetic appreciation.
  • Art and the Jewish Renaissance—Especially in Italy, Jews caught the Renaissance spirit, mining their own past for early examples of the most admired civic culture of the day.
  • Jews and Music—Liturgical music, folk music, Mahler, Schoenberg, Copland…what makes it Jewish music?
  • Jews and Painting—Jewish themes, like Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, have long been subjects of the greatest western artists; many of those great artists were Jews. How did this happen?
  • Art and the Holocaust—From before the war, from the camps, and certainly since, the Holocaust has inspired artistic works beyond number. Does this say something about the importance of art to the Jew?

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