What makes Jewish Art jewish? An Illustrated Theological Investigation
November 12, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Part of Theological Forum at Tewkesbury Abbey
Thursday 12th November 2020 7.00 for 7.30pm
Speaker: Professor Melissa Raphael
Melissa Raphael is Professor of Jewish Theology at the University of Gloucestershire, UK and teaches modern Jewish thought to student rabbis at Leo Baeck College, London. She is a regular invited speaker at conferences and learned societies all over the world and has has published numerous articles and books. Her books include Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy (1997), The Female Face of God in Auschwitz (2003), Judaism and the Visual Image (2009) and Religion, Feminism and Idoloclasm: Being and Becoming in the Women’s Liberation Movement (2019).
Professor Raphael’s illustrated talk will explore the Jewish theology that informs modern Jewish art. She writes:
By the end of the twentieth century it had become clear that the biblical and rabbinical tradition does not interpret the Decalogue’s Second Commandment as a blanket ban on visual art. Belonging with the First Commandment, the Second Commandment rather proscribes the making and worshipping of images of the divine.
These days, most Jewish commentators accept that visual art is a legitimate part of contemporary Jewish culture but are unwilling to ascribe any definitive ‘national’ or religious characteristics to it. My talk, illustrated with slides of work by a range of Jewish artists, will suggest that, there is a characteristically Jewish approach to art. It is a type of art that is theologically informed by the criticism of idols. Jewish art exists because of the Second Commandment, not in spite of it.
Venue: Abbey House, Tewkesbury