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March 08, 1985 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-08

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, March 8, 1985 11

PURELY COMMENTARY

"Jewish Life Around the World"

a photographic essay by Arthur Leipzig

Continued from Page 2

sanctuary of the Temple of
Solomon and they express the
wish that the Temple of old will
be rebuilt soon. If a Sbbath
lamp is shaped in the form of a
star, it is because the Sabbath
is thought of in relation to the
time of the coming of the Mes-
siah, an event to be accom-
panied by the appearance of a
star. In other words, there is
hardly any feature in these ob-
jects which has not specific
significance.
As to the technical part of the
making of these objects, the
reader of this catalogue will in
a great number of instances
notice that they were shaped
by Gentile masters, particu-
larly when they come from
Western and Central Europe.
That is because of the prohibi-
tion against Jews entering the
guilds of the metal workers.
We therefore have the interest-
ing fact that Jewish art does
not necessarily have to be pro-
duced by Jewish artists and
artisans, although it is quite
clear that the Gentile masters
followed carefully the advice
and wishes of those who com-
missioned the objects for
Jewish ritual use. At any rate,
the function of the object is the
decisive factor, not who made
it.
An exhibition such as this
has certain limitations. The ob-
jects for the synagogue should
actually be displayed in a syn-
agogue setting. The history of
the Jewish house of worship
itself belongs in a display of
Jewish ritualistic art. It would
prove that the artistic styles of
the outside world in various
periods were always adjusted
to Jewish needs and, while
there is no Jewish style as
such, there is still a Jewish art
determined by the religious
aims.
Where does the art collector fit
in? Historian Cecil Roth provides
an interesting explanation in his
brief article in the catalogue:
It is only during the present
generation that serious atten-
tion has begun to be paid to
Jewish ritual art. Before this,
there were indeed a few
enthusiastic collectors and
eager amateurs. But their
enthusiasm was not always in
proportion to their discrimina-
tion, nor their zeal to their
learning, as students of their
writings or catalogues period-
ically discover with a mixture
of amusement and alarm. We
are not fortunate enough to
witness a renaissance in this
respect.
This is due above all to two
causes. One is the work of a
handful of scholars trained in
the most rigorous European
tradition who are devoting
themselves to the scientific
study of the subject. The other
is the emergence of a few dis-
criminating collectors who
have developed both a new
enthusiasm and a new
standard. They are no longer
collectors of curios. They are
attempting to bring together
only the best — those objects
which have an appeal for their

intrinsic beauty, and not
merely for their specific appli-
cation.
Their work has a practical as
well as an adademic impor-
tance. All religious art de-
clined during the course of the
nineteenth century, as in
notorious, but this was for var-
ious reasons especially the
case with Jewish ritual art,
which became deplorably
stylised. The collectors who
have brought together mate-
rial which reflects an ampler
and more aesthetic tradition
are performing a public serv-
ile. They are showing — some-
thing that is so often over-
looked by the younger genera-
tion — that the Jewish reli-
gious tradition had in former
days its aethestic as well as its
emotional appeal. And they
are assembling the models by
virtue of which, it is to be
hoped, we may look forward in
the near future to a revival of
Jewish synagogue and Ritual
Art, inspired by, if not based
upon, these lovely relics of the
past.
Such is the account of an event
that precedes the current "Preci-
ous Legacy" exhibition. It marked
the introduction of cooperative ef-
forts by Jews and non-Jews to rec-
ognize the merits of Jewish crea-
tive art. The recollections about
the Shaarey Zedek event in 1951
add significantly to the current
festive spirit created by "Precious
Legacy." The 1951 experience
also was a precious legacy.

March 10 to April 5

at the Jewish Community Center
Maple and Drake Roads in West Bloomfield

will be brought to you by the
Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit
in honor of our overseas beneficiaries
through the Allied Jewish Campaign
and in conjunction with
The Precious Legacy
at The Detroit Institute of Arts.

This photo exhibition presents images of the Jewish family
in Ethiopia, Hungary, India, Israel, Morocco, Romania and Tunisia.
It consists of 51 original photographs by world renowned
photographer Arthur Leipzig.

BOOKS

Linguistic Help
For Travelers

Language barriers may make
travel difficult — anywhere. In Is-
rael the Jewish tourist is expected
to be able to communicate with
his fellow Jews. Therefore, the
spreading desire to acquire even a
smattering of knowledge of He-
brew given the present stage of
Diaspora-Israel relations and
current tourism trends.
Tourists will find great help in
communicating with kinfolk as
well as being able to read the
basics in Hebrew periodicals with
the assistance of Getting By in
Hebrew," a paperback compiled
by Prof. Moshe Pelli of the de-
partment of hebrew literature at
Yeshiva University.
The guidelines in this interest-
ingly compiled booklet make it
possible for the Israeli tourist to
get along with the Hebrew-
speaking in the land of Israel.
Commencing with a "quick be-
ginners course for tourists and
,business people," the lexicon as-
sists greetings, shopping, dining
in restaurants, finding one's way
and practically every confronta-
tion that would pose an obstacle.
The Hebrew-English word list
appended to the text of Getting By
in Hebrew adds value to this
paperback.

GRANDMOTHER, 1981
Djerba, Tunisia

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