Showing posts from December, 2013

Exhibition Preview: The Art of the Haggadah and Arthur Szyk

Arthur Szyk, The Four Questions , 1936. Watercolor and gouache on paper, 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. Courtesy the Robbins Family Collection, Palo Alto, CA. Copyright © The Arthur Szyk Society. Exhibition opens February 13, 2014 The haggadah—the text used during the ritual Passover meal, the seder—is the most published and read Jewish book in the history of printing; over 5,000 versions of the haggadah have been printed since the invention of the printing press at the end of the fifteenth century. Each version offers a unique presentation and interpretation of the Passover story that often reflects the time and community for which it was published.

Friendship in Jewish Thought

Arnold Lobel, Title page from Days with Frog and Toad , 1979. Graphite, ink, and wash on paper, 19 15/16 x 15 15/16 in. (matted). Courtesy of The Estate of Arnold Lobel. Copyright © The Estate of Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad and the World of Arnold Lobel is a new exhibition at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) . Although frogs play an important role in the epic biblical Exodus story, Lobel’s playful illustrations do not immediately conjure Pharoahs, plagues, and ancient Egypt. Rather, these are stories about the friendship between two amphibians. My title at The CJM is Jewish Community Liaison. While much of my work is in the “liason” area, fostering relationships with local organizations, I also like to highlight the Jewish part, which had me wondering what insights about friendship might we find in Jewish texts? When I first asked myself this question, I immediately thought of, “Aseh lecha rav, v’kaneh l’cha haver,” from Pirke Avot 1:6 translated approximately


Hanukkah got a lot of attention this year. It was the same day as Thanksgiving, and this rare union seemed to give both holidays a boost. Far from being buried by Christmas cheer, the festival of lights fused so completely with its autumnal counterpart that a challenging-to-spell new phrase and hashtag was born: #Thanksgivukkah. Countless blogs, tweets, and a $50,000 Kickstarter Turkey Menorah campaign later, why did this holiday hybrid spark so much interest? It was a perfect moment to demonstrate American Jewish pride, an encapsulation of the kind of blending of traditions which is part of what makes the US culturally vibrant, and it was also just really fun. The reinvention of ritual is one of this museum's favorite topics , a way of honoring both the past and the unique qualities of the present. We asked for examples of home-brewed celebrations from our online community, and you delivered in some creative ways. One lucky participant received the book Hanukcats , because