Looking for the spirit of Judaism, on the canvas

28 Feb

Has the secular Israeli public’s growing interest in Jewish sources trickled down into the art scene? A new exhibition in Tel Aviv tackles the question.

By Eitan Buganim | Haaretz

Noam Venkert, “Self-portrait as Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yohai,” 2012. Photo by Tal Nissim

Noam Venkert, “Self-portrait as Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yohai,” 2012. Photo by Tal Nissim

What effect has the resurgent spirit of Judaism and Jewish studies being offered by pluralistic organizations in Israel had on the art scene in this country? That is the question at the heart of a new group exhibition, titled “Secular Judaism: The Impact of Jewish Renewal Organizations on Secular Israeli Culture,” at the Nahum Gutman Museum of Art in Tel Aviv.

In recent years, many Israelis, in their obsessive pursuit of self-identity, have adopted the principle of “Judaism as culture” and taken up Jewish studies in institutions that term themselves a “secular beit midrash” – a reference to a traditional Orthodox place of study. Members of the secular public who wish to re-bond with their religious roots have flocked to institutions such as Elul in Jerusalem (whose website notes that it “uses traditional and modern Jewish texts to create pluralistic dialogues in a beit midrash-style that are relevant and current”) and Alma in Tel Aviv. These organizations offer “a learning experience based on an interpretive, pluralistic and humanistic reading of the [Jewish] sources, together with Hebrew and Israeli texts,” according to the exhibition’s curator, Monica Lavi.

Read the full article.

Comment Form