New Website Teaches Jewish High Holy Days Through Historical Images

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

September 20, 2007, New York, NY

La Ville de Jerusalem (The City of Jerusalem)Augsburg, ca. 1770s
This hand-colored, eighteenth-century engraving depicts an imaginative scene of Biblical Jerusalem during Sukkot. It is modeled on the description in the book of Nehemiah (8:16) of the building of sukkot in courtyards and on rooftops.

Just in time for the Jewish New Year, a new website developed by The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Center for Online Judaic Studies provides fresh insight into Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simhat Torah through some of the most important and beautiful holiday related images of all time.

"The High Holidays and Sukkot: A Teaching Site" (
includes images of medieval manuscripts (some magnificently illuminated), early printed works, historical New Year’s postcards, and breathtaking pieces of personal artwork. Some of these works provide interesting “commentaries” on the holidays by Jews of earlier generations, while others offer evidence of surprising customs that may be unknown to the viewer today. Together, they serve as testimony to the importance of these holidays and this season in the lives of Jews through the ages.

Sukkah Plaque
Italy, early 19th century
This unfinished sukkah decoration, neither signed nor dated, was discovered recently when it was removed from the back of the previous sukkah plaque. It depicts the two spies carrying a cluster of grapes from the Holy Land. The verse upon which the scene is based (Numbers 13:23) appears below the image, although the reference is incorrectly cited as Deuteronomy.

This site is intended for teachers and students at all levels—from elementary teachers to high school students to interested adult learners. The materials may be accessed by following their historical development (click the tab marked "The Holidays in Historical Perspective") or through "guiding questions," thereby maximizing its teaching potential.

"The High Holidays and Sukkot: A Teaching Site" is a collaborative project produced by The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Center for Online Judaic Studies. The photography has been contributed by renowned Israeli photographer Ardon Bar Hama, who designed the site in consultation with Dr. David Kraemer, JTS’s Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian. Dr. Ofra Backenroth, assistant dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, served as educational consultant. The project was made possible through the generous support of George Blumenthal and Floy and Amos Kaminski.

Further information is available by contacting Dr. Kraemer at (212) 678-8075.

Editors/Reporters: For more information or to schedule an interview with Dr. Kraemer, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.