Great (Hagdola) Synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, Early 18th Century (Center for Jewish Art / Hebrew University)
The Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched the world’s largest online database of Jewish art on Thursday at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.
The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art is a collection of digitized images and information about Jewish artifacts from all over the world. The online collection includes more than 260,000 images of objects and artifacts from 700 museums, synagogues and private collections in 41 different countries, as well as architectural drawings of 1,500 synagogues and Jewish ritual buildings from antiquity to the modern day.
The public can access the Bezalel Index of Jewish Art and start exploring the world of Jewish art. Amateur or professional researchers easily access more than a quarter of a million images, with accompanying details and descriptions, either by simple keyword search, or according to such categories as Iconographical Subject, Origin, Artist, Object, Community, Collection or Location.
The Center for Jewish Art is the world’s foremost institution dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish artistic heritage. The Center’s activities include documentation, research, education and publishing. Under the direction of Dr. Vladimir Levin, the Center has in recent years worked steadily toward completing the Index by photographing, measuring and painstakingly describing and categorizing each piece to be made available online to the public.
Tripartite Mahzor, Lake Constance Area, ca. 1322 (Oxford, Bodleian Library) (Center for Jewish Art / Hebrew University)
“Jewish culture is largely perceived as a culture of texts and ideas, not of images. As the largest virtual Jewish museum in the world, the Index of Jewish Art is a sophisticated tool for studying visual aspects of Jewish heritage. We hope that making this Index available will lead to further in-depth study of primary sources, and serve as an enduring launching pad for the study of the historical and cultural significance of Jewish art for many years to come,” said Dr. Levin.
The extensive collection contains over 100,000 entries in the Jewish Ritual Architecture category alone. “We cannot physically preserve all Jewish buildings everywhere, but we can preserve them visually through documentation and drawings,” said Dr. Levin.
The digitization of the Center for Jewish Art archives became possible in the framework of a joint project with the National Library of Israel and Judaica Division of Harvard University Library. It was generously funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, “Landmarks” Program of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Judaica Book Fund endowments established by David B. Keidan (Harvard), as well as by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation, Mrs. Josephine Urban and Mr. William Gross.
The Israeli government recognized The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art as a non-tangible national heritage in 2012, and it is today considered the most comprehensive database of Jewish art in the world, existing as a virtual museum available to all.
Prof. Bezalel Narkiss was an Israel Prize laureate who established the Hebrew University’s Department of Art History in 1966 with his colleague Prof. Moshe Barasch. In 1979 Narkiss established the Center for Jewish Art with the goal of creating a research center that focuses on investigating and preserving Jewish visual art. Since then, the Center has employed a small but dedicated group of professionals and graduate students who routinely go on documentation expeditions all over the world.
On these trips abroad, researchers document six categories of Jewish art: Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts, Sacred and Ritual Objects, Jewish Cemeteries, Ancient Jewish Art, Modern Jewish Art, and Jewish Ritual Architecture. Some of the pieces documented are no longer in existence, but have a permanent place in the vast index that has taken more than thirty years to collect and six years to digitize. In some cases, the researchers were able to document an object just in time, such as right before a crumbling East European synagogue collapsed to its foundation, or a ritual object disappeared into obscurity at an auction.
One such expedition that researchers from the Center went on occurred in Siberia in 2015. While researchers give extra attention to areas of Europe where Jewish communities were ravaged during World War Two and have inherited the worst crisis of heritage preservation in the aftermath of the destruction brought on by the Holocaust, the former Soviet Union’s Jewish communities in the far north have also fared poorly.
Interior, Paradessi Synagogue of White Cochin Jews in Cochin, Kochi (Cochin) (Center for Jewish Art / Hebrew University)
Researchers on the expedition found that many synagogues, long since abandoned, were on the verge of collapse. Many Jewish cemeteries had been destroyed over the years, or were in such a state of dilapidation and neglect that they were in danger of disappearing. While the expedition team worked tirelessly at documenting the objects that they could find, they also attempted to raise awareness among the locals of the importance of preserving Jewish heritage sites, not just for Jewish communities, but also as a significant part of their own history and culture.
The Center has more exciting projects lined up in the coming months. The monograph Synagogues of Ukraine: Volhynia, by Dr. Sergey Kravtsov and Dr. Vladimir Levin, is due to be published this summer. “Historic Synagogues of Europe,” a joint project with the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, will be opened to the public in November 2017. It will offer, for the first time, an inventory of all of the historic synagogues of Europe, rating them according to their significance and condition, therefore providing a comprehensive and strategic perspective for the preservation of European Jewish heritage.
Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/93040/hebrew-university-launches-worlds-largest-jewish-art-index/#JDgCKleDFVFgbwcH.99
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad displays the Barbie doll modeled after her. (Twitter)
A new hijab-sporting doll modeled on the Muslim Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will join the Barbie line in 2018, Mattel announced last week.
Part of the company’s “Shero” collection highlighting real-life women inspiring new generations, the new doll, outfitted in fencing garb, is modestly covered up from head to toe. She is the first Barbie ever to flaunt the hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women.
British-Israeli Jonathan Spyer knows he’s been gambling with his life, but says getting the story is worth it
Jonathan Spyer, wearing a black leather jacket, meets with Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria in 2013. (Courtesy)
Jonathan Spyer had been behind enemy lines many times before, carefully guarding his dangerous secret. But on a fine Spring day in Aleppo this year, in an area controlled by the Syrian regime, he thought his cover might have finally been blown — not by government intelligence agents or Islamist rebels, but by a fellow Brit just trying to have a nice chat over coffee.
How an Israeli family conquered the Vienna food scene
If London has Ottolenghi; Paris, Miznon; and Jerusalem, Machneyuda, then Vienna has NENI. Founded in March 2009 by the indefatigable Haya Molcho and her sons, NENI has become the go-to restaurant in Vienna for eclectic Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. With NENI, the Molchos also became pioneers, introducing the kaleidoscopic Israeli palette to an Austrian audience while transforming Vienna’s historic but slightly staid Naschmarkt from a traditional market into a gastronomic hotspot.
In a city marked by its Turkish-owned kebab stands, NENI has broadened the definition of Levantine food in Vienna beyond that which can be handheld, stuffed inside a pita. Haya has taken the classics and turned up the volume. For example, NENI is famous for its “hamshuka,” hummus that contains a fragrant mound of warmly spiced ground beef and lamb, served with pita
Twenty French and European parliamentarians and French mayors who planned to arrive in Israel to show their support for imprisoned Arab terrorists, and specifically meet with convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti, canceled their flight from France at the airport at the last minute, according to a report in NRG.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 8:00 pm on Saturday.
The anti-Israeli parliamentarians were informed that nine of their more prominent BDS-supporting members would be denied entry into Israel, so they made the group decision that none would go.
How Obama’s appeasement policies have prompted a fundamental realignment in Mideast alliances.
The Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, revealed this week that Israel was prepared to share intelligence with Saudi Arabia in an effort to combat Iran’s expansionist agenda and malign regional influence. The unprecedented statement was made during the course of an interview with the London-based, Saudi online publication, Elaph.
Speaking at the Zionist Organization of
America’s annual dinner, Steven Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist and current CEO of the Breitbart news website, said the US political establishment has “lowered the bar on what [pro-Israel] is supposed to be.”
Bannon invited the pro-Israel activists to join what he referred to as the “insurgency movement against the Republican establishment and against the permanent political class in Washington, DC.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri recently shocked the international community by announcing his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni political leader, made this announcement from Saudi Arabia, where some speculate that he is being held under house arrest, while others believe he is there on his own accord because he fears for his very life. These fears are not unfounded. In 2005, his father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was assassinated by a car bomb that is believed to have been planted by Hezbollah.
It’s our problem, actually, and we’ve made it theirs.
Check out our split-brain reaction to the Palestinian Authority. By rights, the U.S. should have nothing to do with people who venerate and pay for terror against civilians; teach their children that their country is “From the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea; rob donors and international agencies blind; jail people for their Facebook posts; hold office eight years after the end of a single elected term; refuse to seat an elected parliament; and refuse to acknowledge the permanence and legitimacy of America’s ally, Israel.
Tell me, I am asked over and over again, both by friends and by people who aren’t my friends, have you people in the media gone mad? Do you really think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sold the state’s interest to help his friends get rich?
You’re creating the impression that “Netanyahu is a traitor,” without actually saying the word. It’s worse than what they did to the former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, some even say. And in any event, none of his supporters buy into your claims. You’re simply lying.
“Many people prowl round Mount Sinai. Their speech is blurred, either they are garrulous or they shout or they are taciturn. But none of them comes straight down a broad, newly made, smooth road that does its own part in making one’s strides long and swifter.” (Franz Kafka, Mount Sinai)