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February 20, 1970 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-02-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Rembrandt - the Dutch Master Who Endowed
His Jewish Models With Human Dignity

The much-heralded exhibition,
"Rembrandt After 300 Years,"
which will come to the Detroit In-
stitute of Arts Wednesday brings
to mind many aspects of the Dutch
master's "Jewish art."
Experts have computed that of
Rembrandt's 200 oil portraits of
men, 37 are Jews. In addition,
there are numerous oils, etchings
and drawings of Jewish couples,
ghetto beauties, various groups and
countless biblical pictures for
which the artist used Jewish mod-
els.
Rembrandt is considered the first
master to show Jews not as cari-
catures, but as people endowed
with human dignity, outside the
biblical frame. Whenever he paint-
ed figures from the New Testa-
ment, he recalled the sensitive
faces of the young Talmud stu-
dents walking to the yeshiva.

In the Jewish Quarter of 17th
Century Amsterdam, Rembrandt
was on friendly terms with the
intellectual leaders, who gladly
posed for him. Twice he painted
the Jewish physician Dr. Eph-
raim Bonus—conveying "the Jew
who has experienced centuries of
suffering . . . the man who faces
and strives to plumb the insoluble
Buster of human destiny," ac-
cording to one scholar.
Another model of Rembrandt's
was Rabbi Saul Levi Morteira,

Rembrandt, who died in 1669, a
trayed the tired. humble and un-
assuming people at the entrance of lonely, sick man, left few belong-
a Polish-style shul—resorting neith- ings to his three survivors — his
er to caricature nor to idealization daughter, daughter - in - law a n d
of the Ashkenazim. The colorful granddaughter. Among the remains
Ashkenazim, who could not afford were an old Bible and a German
Rembrandts as could the more edition of Flavius Josephus' "The
wealthy and educated Jewish im- Jewish War."
Between 1933 and 1945, Rem-
migrants from Portugal, neverthe-
less did not object to posing for the brandt's works were kept discreet-
ly
in the background of German
master, who emphasized their hu-
man qualities over the poverty of museums. The Germans didn't

their graments. He "endowed them dare, however, to suggest the de-
with the warmth and splendor with struction of the priceless works of
which his artistic temperament the "Jew-lover."
It was thanks to a Jew, in fact,
clothed everything he looked at,"
that Rembrandt's house in Am-
said one student of is art.
Another Rembrandt etching, sterdam has been preserved. In
"Lament for Abel" follows al- 1906, when the world commemorat-
most literally a scene described ed the 300th anniversary of his
in a Midrash, and in "Isaac Re- birth, the Jewish painter Joseph
fusing His Blessing to Esau," the Israels rebuked his fellow citizens
hunter and warrior is drawn as for having permitted the "Rem-
the arche-type of the enemy of brandt Huis" to disintegrate and
Jewry, in keeping with the post- decay. He succeeded in saving the
biblical tradition, wrote Alfred house where Rembrant had pro-
duced some of his best works.
Werner.

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Technological Revolution Cause for Moral Concern

PRINCETON, N.J. — Thirty-five
Presbyterian and Jewish theolog-
ians and academicians, at the end
of a three-day conference on theol-
ogy and technology here, agreed
that man's future was at stake in
the technologcal revolution and
that efforts must be made to inject
the moral values of religion into
the development of science.
The meeting, sponsored by the
United Presbyterian Church in the
U.S.A. and the American Jewish

Committee, brought together min-
: isters, rabbis, seminarians and col-
lege professors from as far away
as San Francisco and Canada.
Their primary concern was the
need to study the thrust of sci-
entific research, and to persuade
those engaged in that research
to stay within the limits of West-
ern value systems. They were
worried about a world and a
technology in which decisions
will be made as to who may be
born, who may live and who shall
die.
They foresaw a total invasion of
privacy through the use of such
mechanisms as data banks and
technological syping devices. They
expressed fear that modern science
could destroy the dignity and in-
dividuality of man.
But the participants were far
from unanimous in their views of
the relationship between religion
and science.
Joseph Blau, professor of religion
at Columbia University, recalled
that in the 1920s, "We attributed to
God the will for every laborer to
have a full meal and a top coat,"
and added, "perhaps the computer
and the test tube are as much a
part of God as the top coat."
Although the conferees reached
a general concensus that religious
value systems threatened in today's
world, there was belwilderment as
to how to reverse the trend, how to
influence it, or how to accommo-
date it.

OPENING

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HAIR ST/LING

TO u PE-S FACIALS

MANICURING

REMBRANDTS PORTRAIT OF A JEW

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

HUNS f ',ELL ELL.G.

1 7 51 5 W.

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Everyvkere

YESHIVATH BETH YEHUDAH

Spinoza's first teacher and later a
member of the court which ex-
communicated the heretic philoso-

pher. Some say that the features of
Spinoza himself were given by
Rembrandt to the young harp
player, David, in the canvas "Da-
vid Playing the Harp Before Saul."
As a young man in Leyden,
Rembrandt painted "Judas Re-
turning the Thirty Pieces." Earlier
painters had portrayed Jesus' "be-
trayer" as a monster; Rembrandt,
however, "depicted Judas as wring-
ing his hands in his despair." and
"portrayed something profoundly
touching."
His etching, "The Synagogue,"
provides interesting contrast to a
painting of the same subject attri-
buted to the German master Al-
brecht Altdorfer, who focused
solely on the architecture of the
Gothic synagogue at Ratisbon and
topped the work with a Latin in-
scription that this synagogue had
been destroyed "by the righteous
judgment of God."
Rembrandt's etching instead por-

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