Rekindling Contemporary Judaica

COHEN, MIRIAM S.

Rekindling CONTEMPORARY Judaica MIRIAM S. COHEN "To be a Jew is an act of art..,. Our task as Jews is to make works of art of ourselves, of our souls, of our lives, and this we do through poetry,...

...Mayer Shatter Multi-fired porcelain on granite base Shatter uses the interplay of negative and positive space to create an abstract menorah the dark spaces between the while-colored flat-cut menorah branches become as important as the branches themselves Shacter explains that while his artwork is intuitive, it combines the influences of various cultures In this piece he plays with stylized Hebrew calligraphy...
...Batta Ann Ubbay Stoneware According to Libbey, the shape of this chanukiah reflects the arched gate ways to the Old City of Jerusalem Each branch of the menorah is a handthrown bottle, symbolizing the oil containers found by the Macca bees during the rededication of the Second Temple in 165 B.C.E...
...They sought to bring Jews back to the fold from Hellenistic departures...
...Represented are Israeli and American artisans' re interpretations of traditional ceremonial objects associated with Chanukah, The form of the chanukiah apparency developed from a simple pear-shaped Greco-Roman clay lamp with one aperture for the wick and one for the oil reservoir...
...Pearl Zaltzman's earthenware chanukiah uses themes and shapes of North African Jewish traditions...
...Lechtzm, a professor at the Tyler School of Art m Philadelphia, is a pioneer in the uses of electroplating, the technique of coating an object with a very fine layer of gold or other metal Colored clay Smith, a member of Kibbutz Ma'agan Mich a'el, has had no formal training in ceramics...
...And the artistsócustodians and guardians of the imagination in all its power and integrity, are the sages, masters and rabbis of our day...
...Our task as Jews is to make works of art of ourselves, of our souls, of our lives, and this we do through poetry, drama, music, dance, the arts of the eye and the arts of the soul alike...
...But the melding of ancient traditions with new forms seen in these chanukiot (Chanukah menorahs) is consistent with Neusner's ideas...
...reflecting more accurately than candles the Maccabees' rededication of the Temple...
...These chanukiot were among the entries for an exhibit entitled "Masters of Ceremony: Designers of New Judaica" at the B'nai B'rith JClutznick Museum in Washington, D.C...
...She believes that every individual should light his or her own menorah...
...Examples with as many as 20 wick-holes have survived...
...With her whimsical work she seeks to engage the imagination of the child who will light this one...
...The Maccabees' rededication of the Second Temple was an attempt to rekindle traditions that even then were ancient...
...Mayar Shatter Porcelain on marble base Shacter used multiple firings to achieve the shimmering colors in this sculptured dreidel...
...It has generally been true that Judaica was a reaction to the past...
...Artists are the unacknowledged legislators of our future...
...Later, as these lamps were placed on high, columnar stands, the number of holes (that is, lamps) for the wicks increased...
...this children's mmaruk involves the participants in the Chanukah ceremony in new ways...
...The medium of ceramics, once forbidden by Rabbi Meir ben Baruch or Rothenberg because of a Talmudic ruling that prohibited the use of old clay lamps for Chanukah (Soferim 20:3), is here used quite liberally...
...Smith, who cur rently maintains a studio in Israel, studied colored clay techniques privately in the United States...
...I think in every generation we update what we think is beautiful," explained Gayle Weiss, the museum's guest curator...
...Over the centuries, most chanukiot were made of bronze and other metals...
...When Jacob Neusner, professor of Judaic studies at Brown University, wrote these words in our October issue ("Creators of Worlds: Jewish Imagination and the Arts"), he may not have had Chanukah wi»nl in mind...
...Libbey is an American artist living in Vermont Gala Smith Colored clay Using soft blues and greens of day, Smith creates a three-dimensional autumn scene that appears to extend beyond the arched trench window...
...Each candle becomes a seat before the open window...
...The non-spinning dreidel, poised on a marble base, stands almost a foot and a half tall...
...But modem artists also find inspiration in the past...
...The menorah uses oil for all its flames except the shamash...
...wc decide what our own symbols are/' The rededication of old traditions in new forms and with new spirit can be seen clearly in the pictured chanukiot...
...In 1985 and 1986 Shatter was the winner of the prestigious national Art-quest competition...
...each candle in Lechtzin's menorah can be distinguished from the surrounding ones...
...Gaia Smith's colored clay chanukiah defies traditional form...
...Yaakov Greanvurcal Colored aluminum and brass Best known for his work with silver, this Israeli artist turns to other metals to expand the scope of ceremonial art The chanuktatis color scheme follows that of a muted rainbow...
...J1 P*ar1 Z a It/nun farfhemvare Zaltzman's chanukiah echoes North African traditions in its mosquelike shape...
...As the form of the chanukiah developed, certain features became standard, including eight branches for each of the days of Chanukah, plus a ninth branch called the shamash, or head light, whose candle in modern chanukiot is used to light the other branches...
...Using less-than-traditional forms and materials, today's artists seek to accomplish the same purpose with chanukiot that are imaginative and engaging...
...In this generation we're leaders...
...Design, however, varied according to local custom and the individual artist's whim...
...here", for the word sham, which means "there" Mayer Shacter is an American who maintains a studio m Oakland, California...
...Visible is the Hebrew letter shin, one of four Hebrew letters that stand for the phrase, Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there" This phrase refers to the rededication of the Second Temple by the Maccabees, 'in Israel, the dreidets phrase substitutes the word do...
...Zaltz-man's master's thesis in ceramics was a study of chanukiot Stanley Ltcht/in Electroplated gold, copper and cast acrylic Lechtzin's round chanukiah borrows the form of a German judenstern, a lamp in the shape of a star which hung from the ceiling and which doubled as a chanukiah In accordance with hala-chic specifications which forbid the lights in circular menorot to appear as one flame (Shabbat 23b...

Vol. 12 • December 1987 • No. 9


 
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