Newest JTS Arts Program Gets Underway

Original and Historical Works Are Featured in the Inaugural Installation

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089

October 17, 2011, New York, NY

"Serach" by Richard McBeeChancellor Arnold M. Eisen and The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) have announced the newest program in the JTS Arts Initiative. To celebrate the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot (booths), New York–area professional and amateur artists, including JTS students, faculty, and staff, were asked to contribute original works of art that are now on display in the Adele Ginzberg Women’s League Sukkah at JTS. The theme of the inaugural installation is ushpizin (guests)—the tradition of inviting the exalted men and women of the Bible into the sukkah—and the new art work is complemented by historical pieces from The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary. The ushpizin Sukkot collection is designed to spotlight the essence of Judaism, Torah, and the history of the Jewish people.

“The Jewish arts,” says Chancellor Eisen, “attract and hold Jews through a combination of meaning and community available to them nowhere else. JTS chancellor Louis Finkelstein founded The Jewish Museum to show that Judaism is more than texts and rituals, more too than religion and ethics: the arts too constitute an essential element and expression of Torah. With the help of Artist-in-Residence Tobi Kahn, our unique joint MA program in Jewish Art and Visual Culture, and our Arts Advisory Board—whose members include Provost Dr. Alan Cooper, representatives of The Jewish Museum, professionals from several artistic disciplines, arts philanthropists, and collectors, among many others—we intend to take this key area of human learning and experience and make it an integral part of all JTS study and programming.”

“In the spirit of hiddur mitzvah (fulfilling commandments artfully),” offers Dr. Cooper, “it is customary to embellish the sukkah with plaques that incorporate the names of the ushpizin—traditionallyAbraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David, and more recently including Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Miriam, Abigail, and Esther. Shirah Rubin, who received a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2003 and whose support helped make the display of these works possible, wishes to dedicate it to the memory of her beloved mother, a teacher of art who saw the creative process as a spiritual act and who sought to inspire everyone to explore their creativity to the fullest."

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