“Adorn yourself before Him [in the fulfilment of the precepts]; make a beautiful sukkah…, a beautiful lulav, a beautiful shofar, beautiful fringes and a beautiful Scroll of the Law, and write it with fine ink, a fine reed and a skilled scribe, and wrap it about with beautiful silks.”
-Babylonian Talmud Tractate Shabbat 133b
This Talmudic mandate has been the basis for generations of Jewish aesthetic expression in virtually every Jewish community around the world. Jewish artistic activity over the ages, which started with the Tabernacle and later, the Temple, expanded to include manuscript decoration, ornamental textiles, and ritual objects for use in the home. Only with the Emancipation in the early 19th century were Jews formally allowed to enter the world of the European art academies without having to convert to Christianity. A study of the variegated world of Jewish artistic activity reveals the many facets of Jewish historical and spiritual experience. A single work or item can serve as a window into an entire world. Come share this fascinating journey with me.