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.”

Read more at Atlantic

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

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad