Orthodox Jewish Art Is Experiencing a Renaissance

Oct. 15 2021

Last summer, Zalman Glauber, a forty-six-year-old ḥasidic businessman-turned-sculptor, created something new under the sun: an art gallery, called Shtetl, for ḥaredi artists to display their work. Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt writes:

In the Judaica shops of Monsey and Brooklyn . . . you’ll find that classic Orthodox art is uniform—rabbis, Ḥasidim dancing, Jerusalem landscapes, Western Walls, Torah scrolls, violins. Women are rarely portrayed. . . . Most people who try to create freethinking art end up leaving the Orthodox community, seeking spaces outside—the sort of struggle epitomized by Chaim Potok’s 1972 novel, My Name Is Asher Lev. An Orthodox Jew delivering a nonconformist message by way of a paintbrush, or a sculptor’s chisel, is unusual.

Glauber was drawn to sculpture—a medium that, in the Orthodox community, is traditionally viewed as idolatrous. . . . Glauber went to his rabbi, asking for permission to sculpt. The rabbi allowed it, on one condition: the sculptures could not be complete depictions of human beings; they must be missing parts. The resulting art is striking—a man kissing his phylacteries, a look of ecstasy on his face, with his upper arms missing. Another piece depicts a veker, the traditional town crier who wakes the devoted at dawn for morning penance, holding a lantern at a window, also with no arms.

“Art is now where wine was twenty years ago,” [said the gallery’s director], Meyer Kohn. “We as a community have to learn to appreciate art. We have to educate people. We are starting to realize that art is a language. Artists are more connected to God.”

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Art, Chaim Potok, Hasidim, Jewish art, Orthodoxy

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform