HOW HAS ART EVOLVED IN JUDAISM?
- Significance of art in Jewish culture
As in all cultures, art was intended to inspire and connect human creativity to Divine beauty as embodied in the Torah. Art was also used to convey Jewish experience – from joy to suffering – as well as the never-forgotten expectation of the Final Redemption with the coming of the Messiah.
- Art in pre-modern jewish culture
Beyond this, the art in the First and Second Temples had the highest utility possible: As explained in the elucidation of the Five Books of Moses of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, each element and event he constituent materials of the objects found in the Temples and the Tabernacle before them. Beyond inspiring, the ancient Jewish art of that setting – originated by the biblical personality Betzalel – was designed to teach everyone who beheld it about the Divine reality of the world, from the Ark of the Covenant, to the Table, to the Showbread, to the various altars, indeed, every component part thereof as well, and to the Menorah and its sections. Art was accomplished in the service of Truth.
- Famous works of pre-modern jewish culture
Works like the famous Sarejevo Haggaddah (with illuminated illustrations) and the work of Betzalel in the Mishkan, as well as the renovations of the various Kings of Judah of the Temple in Jerusalem in the First Temple Period, as well as the work of the Prophets Ezra and Nechemia in the Second Temple, not to mention the expansions of King Herod the tyrannical Edomite for his own political purposes during Roman times, all of these are shining examples of art in the pre-modern period. Often the artists were anonymous artisans who lovingly crafted details of the Arks of Synagogues or the benches and cornices of Study Halls.
- Art in today’s Jewish culture
From the transit camp Theresienstadt where many “privileged” Jews landed
on their way to the Nazi death camps, to the synagogues of the Land of Israel and the Diaspora today and for the past two millennia,
A sterling example near Menucha Page’s Gallery in the historic Nachlaot neighborhood is the artwork adorning the ceilings and Ark of the Synagogue in the Batei Broide synagogue. The artwork was the brainchild of the great Torah scholar Rabbi Nosson Kuperstock ZT”L, whose own home facing the synagogue was entirely bare of adornment but who adorned the entire synagogue over his lifetime.
- How art galleries like that of Menucha Page has contributed preserved Jewish art and its value?
Menucha Page has sought to inspire by renewing the techniques of Jewish art to bring them a contemporary flavor, while at the same time bringing out the timeless relevance of ancient Torah principles and symbolism to today.