Archive for the ‘The Jewish Past, Present and Future’ Category

‘Holocaust’ Haggadah’s Cynical Illustrations Still Bite

April 15, 2014

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

Arthur Szyk The Rabbis at B’nai B’rak (detail) Lodz, 1935 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

Arthur Szyk The Rabbis at B’nai B’rak (detail) Lodz, 1935 Watercolor and gouache on paper The Robbins Family Collection

For world Jewry today, what could be a more contemporary take on the Exodus story than portraying the Egyptians as Nazis and the Hebrew slaves as European Jews? This vision, Arthur Szyk’s illumination of his Haggadah for Passover, is widely acclaimed as the famed Jewish activist artist’s masterpiece

First published in 1940 in London during the Battle of Britain, many around the world own a copy of one of the handful of subsequent Israeli and American editions of the book, and many more have seen reproductions of its artwork.

However, until a new exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco opened on February 13, more than 60 years had passed since the public last saw all 48 of the Haggadah’s uniquely stunning and powerful water color and gouache paintings displayed together.

Click here to read more and watch a video.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Modern Exodus: The Sarajevo Haggadah’s Musical Journey

April 14, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Detail of 'Maror' page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

Detail of ‘Maror’ page of the Sarajevo Haggadah (courtesy of the Foundation for Jewish Culture)

One of the millions of readers of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks’ 2008 “The People of the Book” was Merima Ključo, a Bosnian-born musician who left Sarajevo in 1993 during the Bosnian War. The novel offers a fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, the medieval Spanish illustrated manuscript whose survival was oft perilous on its 650-year journey from Catalonia to Venice, to Sarajevo, to Vienna, and back to Sarajevo again, where until recently it was on permanent display at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Like all Sarajevans, Ključo, 39, was already aware of the Sarajevo Haggadah. A prized national treasure that Jews, Christians and Muslims alike have endangered themselves to keep from destruction, the book is seen as the ultimate survivor and a potent symbol of the non-sectarian unity of the people of the Bosnian capital.

Ključo, a concert accordionist who performs with chamber and philharmonic orchestras around the world, decided that she, too, must retell the story of the famed Jewish manuscript—but through the language of music. The result is “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book,” a multimedia work, which is the 2013-2014 New Jewish Culture Network’s music commission.

Click here to read more and watch a video preview.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Herzl Magic

April 3, 2014

This article was first published in The Jerusalem Report magazine.

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Herzl memorabilia collector David Matlow (photo by Leah Boyd)

When Toronto attorney David Matlow was 12 years old, he and his good friend, Barry Simon, wrote a play for their seventh grade class in Jewish day school. They called it “The Hall of Zionists”, modeling it after “The Hall of Presidents” attraction at Disney World. Matlow remembers being Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his friend playing Theodor Herzl.

For most people, such a school assignment would be something forgotten years later, or if it were recalled at all, it would just be a fond childhood memory to look back on. But for Matlow, it is the moment he points to as the beginning of his lifelong fascination with anything and everything to do with Theodor Herzl, the father of modern political Zionism and the visionary of the State of Israel.

Overthe last 41 years, Matlow has gone from being a middle-school student playacting a Zionist leader to becoming the world’s leading private collector of Herzl memorabilia. He owns between 2,500 and 3,000 Herzl-related items. He is not sure of the exact number, but people in the business tell him that of the handful of private Herzl collections in the world, his is the largest.

The rest of this article can be read in the April 21, 2014 issue of The Jerusalem Report. It is online, but behind a pay wall.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 


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