The World’s Largest Database of Jewish Art Makes Its Debut

Last month, the Hebrew University’s Center for Jewish Art made its massive collection of images of works of Jewish art and architecture from around the world available online. Claire Voon describes the project:

[T]he website features over 260,000 entries that catalogue a wide range of objects, artifacts, and sites from 41 countries, dating from antiquity to recent years. Over one-third of them are characterized as Jewish ritual architecture, . . . while researchers have organized the rest into five other groups: Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, sacred and ritual objects, Jewish cemeteries, ancient Jewish art, and modern Jewish art. . . .

The images of paintings, sculptures, architectural drawings, and much more are the fruits of a 30-year effort to document Jewish art kept in museums, private collections, synagogues, and other cultural institutions. Since its establishment in 1979, the Center for Jewish Art has recruited a small group of professionals and graduate students who have traveled around the world to seek out objects and buildings; their travels have brought them to cemeteries in Egypt, a modernist synagogue in Croatia, and museums of all kinds, from the Omsk State History Museum in Russia to the Ulcinj Museum of Archaeology in Montenegro. The collection required an additional six years to digitize. . . .

Unfortunately some of the buildings and objects on the website no longer exist or may be nearly impossible to access. At times, the team photographed artworks at auction before they disappeared into private collections.

Read more at Hyperallergic

More about: Arts & Culture, Jewish architecture, Jewish art, Synagogues

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy