The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 27, 1957 · Page 37
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The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle from Milwaukee, Wisconsin · Page 37

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Friday, September 27, 1957
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Page 37
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THE WISCONSIN JEWISH CHRONICLE 5 Resume of Jewish Year in Ariz IllUmor Mare Chagall on DBirihclav By Alfred Werner The year 5717 was highlighted by two important events: The opening of an art gallery at the Theodor Herzl Institute, New York, and the 10th anniversary celebrations of New York's Jewish Museum. Putting its wall space and other facilities to use for periodic exhibition of Israeli arts and crafts, the Herzl Institute hopes to help the art and artists of Israel in two ways: By making available to Israeli artists space that, in a commercial gallery, would be prohibitive in cost; and by accepting for display only those works which meet a professional standard (In recent years, exploitation of the ever-piesent pro-Israel sentir.-ient has imposed upon an unsuspecting, artistically naive, public "Israeli art" ranging from mediocre to downright bad). Lovely Israeli stamps, artistic book plates pertaining to Zionist history and the aesthetic groupings of Israeli children as well as four one-man shows were on view. Joel Rohr, who after 23 years in the United States migrated to Palestine in 1946, showed delicately balanced, rhythmically alive pictures of Kibbutz activities, ancient sites, trees and flowers in bloom. Ruth Levin, wife of Harry Levin, counsellor at the Israel Embassy, proved her good taste and versatility in drawings and paintings, her subject matter ranging from portraits to large Victorian interiors, and her landscapes shifting from Israeli vistas to sundrenched villages in New Mexico. There were spontaneously painted flower pieces and freely conceived still lifes by Jenny Maiselis. A series of tempera panels, "The Ten Plagues," a Passover decoration used in the Kibbutz Hatzor, was the center of young Judith Oren's show: her offerings revealed sensitivity, and her strong color the yearning for joyful expressiveness. Bottomless Treasure Chest Only a decade has passed since the opening of the Jewish Museum in a Gothic-style mansion at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street donated by Felix M. Warburg's widow. So deeply has the Museum, through scores of exhibitions, lectures and other activities influenced the taste and augmented the knowledge of hundreds of thousands of residents of New York (and, through loan exhibitions, millions in other cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific) that it is now hard to believe American Jewry ever managed without this bottomless treasure chest. Two exhibitions of the first half of 1957 are memorable: "Artists of the New York School: Second Generation," and the 10th Anniversary Show. The former acquainted us with the talents of 23 very young men and women. No restrictions as to style and subject matter were imposed on these artists who, in fact, seemed to have been encouraged by the enthusiastic curator. Dr. Stephen S. Kayser. to be as bold as they wished. For the anniversary celebration, about a hundred priceless ceremonial objects had been loaned by the Cluny Museum in Paris the bulk of the famous Strauss-Rothschild Collection. Some items were four and even five hundred years old, and the show included unusual Chanukah lamps and spice boxes as well as elaborately wrought golden marriage rings of Italian craftsmanship. In addition, some 50 works of classic and modern art were loaned by friends of the Museum. Among those treasures was a lovely small Rembrandt, seen in New York for the first time. Titled "The Biblical High Priest," it shows the sorrow-wracked features of the aging artist, and the rich impasto color characteristic of his late work. "The effort to express love for God through creating beautiful objects for His worship and His commandments is as ancient as Judaism itself." These lines were written by Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, perhaps with the intention to encourage American Jews to build better and nobler synagogues, and to furnish them with the best products of craftsmanship and skill. As the spiritual re-awakening, accompanied by good times, continued throughout the year, many postwar synagogue edifices were brought to conclusion, while new ones were started, mainly in suburban communities. Jews, like other groups, continued to require up-to-date religious building, and courageous modernism remained triumphant over nostalgic pretti-ness. Synagogue Architects Ingenious But in 5717 architects were still wrestling with the two problems confronting them when the building boom began after V-J Day. Whereas the Christian house of worship gradually and logically developed from the medieval cathedral towards the light and simple 20th century church building, architects had had to create the modern synagogue out of a void, as it were. In many cases, an edifice, built in, say, 1946, within 10 years proved to be too small for the rapidly expanding congregation, and a new architect had to solve the difficult task of blending his own creation (the additional structures) with the older building, sometimes still a bit "conservative" in its aesthetic expression. On the whole, however, our architects have managed to solve these problems ingenuously. Between Massachusetts and California, dozens of excellent temples have sprung up during the last year, synagogues expressing the unobtrusive dignity, the soothing quietness so appealing to the man of today. A recent and most welcome feature ought to be noted: the love for nature, satisfied by careful landscaping, and by allowing the large synagogue windows to frame the never-deceiving magic of sunlight, sky and trees. An increasing number of artists have been called to dedicate their talents to the embellishment of synagogue and community centers. I can mention just a few. There is Erna Weill whose large relief, "Jacob's Dream," was installed on the wall of the Teaneck (N. J.) Jewish Community Center (ecstatic in origin, yet subdued by wise craftsmanship, her semi-abstract bronze avoids the obvious, allowing the beholder to continue with his mind where the artist left off). The wrought-bronze m e n o r a h, sculptured by Nathaniel Kaz for Temple Beth Emeth in Albany, New York, is most elegant and impressive in the intricate pattern formed by the subtly entwined slender stems that carry the lights. Herbert Ferber, Ibram Lassaw, Helen Frankenthaler and Abraham Rattner designed sculptures, mosaics and tapestry for Temple Anshe Chesed in Cleveland and the Tem ple of Aaron Congregation in St. Piul, Minn., works which, while non-realist, retain at least some rudimentary graphic links to the religious tenets that inspired them; hence, the beholder docs not have to struggle too long to reconcile form with the content signalled by the title. Incidentally, the foundation of a Jewish Ceremonials Club in Marion, a suburb of Philadelphia, might be mentioned, to indicate the extent to which American Jews have become conscious of the importance of expressing "love for God through creating beautiful objects for His worship." Listed among the goals of this unique club is this: To improve the quality and increase the quantity of Jewish ceremonial objects in the home and synagogue. As if to honor him on the eve of his 70th birthday, three American publishers have brought out books on Marc Chagall. One of them is a biography, written by the artists's life-long friend, Lio-ncllo Venturi. The professor ;s not sufficiently informed abc" the Jewish sources of Chagall's art, and sometimes, in an effort to understand and describe Jewish life and lore, makes curious mis takes. But he compensates by his brilliant delineation of Chagall's main characteristics: the poetic in tormingling of dream and reality, the conversion of the static into the dynamic, and the hegemony of completely free imagination over intellectual abstraction. Chagall's Works Published Possibly the most beautiful book of the year was "Marc Chagall: Illustrations for the Bible." Commissioned by the dealer Vollard more than a quarter of a century ago, Chagall made a first version, then abandoned it and went to the Middle East to study the actual landscape and people of the Hebrew Bible. Back in Paris he began a new set of etchings, and had finished 105 plates by the time of Vollard's death in 1939. Now the whole set, plus a few additional lithographs and drawings, is available to Chagall's numerous admirers. From ancient Israel the artist selected three kinds of super-human people to celebrate: the great pathfinders, starting with Noah and ending with Moses; the leaders of the nation; and the reformers. One is struck by Chagall's lyricism (see his delightful treatment of animals), by the superabundance of his fantasy (especially in the pictorialization of prophesies), and by the naive blending of village Yiddish culture with the monumentality of archaic and almost barbaric figures. There is, finally, "Chagall: His Graphic Work," in which the artist once more reveals himself as an Oriental story-teller who considers the elements of every day reality as so many building stones out of which to erect fanci ful houses of dreams. The etchings, woodcuts and lithographs were selected from more than 20 books and albums. The year 5717 saw the passing of several prominent men. Hugo Ballin, known for his mural decorations of the B'nai B'rith Temple on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, died in Santa Monica at the age of 76. Moses P. Halperin, who died in Cleveland at the age of 64, was a gentle and learned man as well as one of the most distinguished builders of American synagogues. In collaboration with Sigmund Braverman, he designed modern temples in many Middle Western and Canadian cities. From Jerusalem came word that Mor-decai Narkiss passed away at the age of 58. First an assistant to Professor Boris Schatz, founder of the Bezalel Museum, he succeeded him as administrator and, over a quarter of a century, secured many valuable objects of art for his institution. "Shocfief" The term "Shochet" is applied to a slaughterer who is licensed to kill livestock in accordance with the Jewish Dietary Laws' ritual and method of slaughter. The term comes from a verb "to slaughter" which is in turn traced to a verb meaning "to draw." The inference is that Jewish methodolgy in slaughtering kosher animals is a nrocess whereby the knife is "drawn" over the throat of the animal. Sincerest Rosh Hashanah Greetings to All! JACK H. PESSIN and Associates Builders and Developers 4365 North 27 Street ft A Joyouas New Year to All! MAY THE NEW YEAR BE A HAPPIER YEAR FOR ALL MANKIND! AG "3 TT KNITTING Ml MILWAUKEE

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