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

Sept. 29 2017

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


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy