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[Bronstein, Max]

(b Tuchów, Poland, July 13, 1896; d Jerusalem, June 18, 1992).

Israeli painter of Polish birth. As a young boy he greatly admired El Greco, Goya and Rembrandt. From 1920 to 1925 he studied at the Bauhaus, Weimar, under Klee, Kandinsky, Johannes Itten and Lyonel Feininger and the following year studied painting techniques at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich under Max Doerner. During the 1920s he changed his name from Max Bronstein to Mordecai Ardon. He taught at the Kunstschule Itten in Berlin from 1929 to 1933, when Nazi persecution forced him to flee to Jerusalem. Though he had been an active Communist in Germany, in Jerusalem he soon found a great affinity with Jewish religion and culture. In 1935 he was made a professor at the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem, and was its Director from 1940 to 1952.

Ardon’s early paintings show the influence of Expressionism, as in Seated Woman in a Straw Chair...

Article

Ita Heinze-Greenberg

(b Berlin, March 3, 1877; d Jerusalem, Oct 25, 1930).

German architect, teacher and writer, active in Palestine . He studied architecture (1895–1901) at the Technische Hochschule, Charlottenburg, Berlin, spending one summer term at the Technische Hochschule, Munich. His student works revealed exceptional skill as a draughtsman and he won the Schinkel Medal (1906) for his design (unexecuted) of an architectural museum. In the following year he became Königlicher Regierungsbaumeister for the Prussian state, where his early work included various houses and shops and the restoration of a residential block (1908), Kaiserin–Augusta Street, all in Berlin. He also assisted the architect Ernst Ihne in the construction of the neo-Baroque Preussische Staatsbibliothek (1908–13), Berlin. In 1909 he was sent to Haifa, Palestine (now Israel), by the Jüdisches Institut für Technische Erziehung to take over the architectural design and building of the Technion, which was carried out in stages (1912–24). Sited on the slopes of Mount Carmel, near Haifa, the main building is symmetrical with an emphasis on the central entrance. Middle Eastern elements, such as the dome, the flat roof with pointed crenellations and the arcaded passages, together with symbolic Jewish forms such as the Star of David, in the sparse decoration, testify to Baerwald’s intention to create an architecture that was a synthesis of Middle-Eastern culture and Western technique. The whole complex was built in locally quarried sandstone and limestone, reflecting the architect’s preference for stone....

Article

Ron Fuchs

(b Mogilev, Russia [now Belarus’], Oct 6, 1877; d Tel Aviv, July 18, 1952).

Israeli architect of Russian birth. He graduated at the Art Academy, St Petersburg, in 1911, and practised in St Petersburg until 1921, when he settled in Palestine. After two years as chief architect of the Public Works Office of the Histadruth (the General Federation of Jewish Labour in Eretz-Israel), he set up in private practice in Tel Aviv. In his early buildings Berlin developed a highly personal vocabulary of simplified classicist ornament adapted to the simple materials and craftsmanship then available in the city. A notable example is the power station (1925), Jaffa. His most original contribution, however, was his unique use of silicate bricks, the chief building material in Tel Aviv at the period and an early product of its burgeoning industry. Leaving the brick unplastered, he created playful abstract patterns, faintly reminiscent of Expressionism and Art Deco. Examples include Berlin’s own house (1929), 59 Balfour Street, and the Moghrabi Theatre (...

Article

Rachel Hachlili

Synagogue in Hefzibah, Israel, notable for its 6th-century ad mosaic pavements. It was first excavated in 1929 by E. L. Sukenik and N. Avigad. It consisted of a courtyard, a vestibule and a main hall (27.7×14.2 m). The north façade of the hall had three entrances; on the floor adjacent to these, mosaic depictions of a lion and a bull flank two inscriptions. One, in Greek, commemorates the craftsman who laid the mosaics; the other, in Aramaic, places the date of the synagogue’s construction in the reign of Justinus (probably Justinus II, reg ad 565–78). The main hall was divided into a nave and two aisles by two rows of plastered stone pillars. The south wall of the nave ended in an apse, orientated towards Jerusalem, which housed the Ark of the Scrolls and possibly also two menorahs (ritual candlesticks). Benches were built along the east, west and south walls; a door in the western aisle led into a side room....

Article

Rachel Hachlili

[Beth She’arim]

Jewish necropolis near the town of Beth Shearim in the lower Galilee. In the early 3rd century ad the site became a noted centre of learning under the great scholar Rabbi Judah ha-Nassi (c. 135–217). His burial there made the site holy ground, and it became the chief burial place for Jews from the land of Israel and neighbouring regions. It was destroyed in ad 352. The necropolis consisted of catacombs, most of them of the 3rd and 4th centuries; they had courtyards in front and portals, with stone doors made to resemble wooden doors with nails. Each catacomb contained numerous tombs; some had several burial halls spaced out along corridors that were cut into the rock of the hillside. The tombs were mainly loculi [compartmented graves] or arcosolia [vaulted niches]. The dead were laid in arcosolia, coffins or decorated stone, marble or terracotta sarcophagi. On the walls were carved, painted or incised decorations; like those of the sarcophagi, they were in a popular style that combined Hellenistic and Oriental elements. Characteristic of the style are scenes from pagan mythology and Jewish motifs, such as the menorah, the Ark of the Scrolls and various ritual objects. Some of the catacombs belonged to one family, others were public. Burial at Beth Shearim was a commercialized public enterprise directed by a burial society, which may have sold burial places....

Article

Rachel Hachlili

[Capharnaum, Kafarnaum; now Kefar Nahum]

Town located on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), Israel. Mentioned in the New Testament as a place visited by Jesus, it is traditionally held to have been the home of St Peter. Two synagogues have been identified in Capernaum, the second built on the remains of the first, as well as an octagonal area thought to be the site of a church of St Peter, built where his house was believed to have stood. The town was destroyed in the 7th century ad.

The earlier synagogue, dated to the 1st century ad, has been tentatively identified with the synagogue at Capernaum, the building of which is mentioned in Luke 7:5. Excavators have found a basalt cobbled pavement and several basalt walls, which run under the south wall and the east and west stylobates of the main hall of the later limestone synagogue. Benches along the walls are assumed, but no entrance has been found. The dating of the limestone synagogue is in dispute. In ...

Article

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, Ralph M. Cleminson, John W. Cook, Susan von Daum Tholl, Suzy Dufrenne, Anne-Mette Gravgaard, Catia Galatariotou and Joseph A. Munitiz

World religion that arose in Palestine in the 1st century ad. Springing from Judaism (see Jewish art, §I), it accepts the sacred nature of the Hebrew scriptures, but unlike Judaism and Islam (see Islam, §I) it also accepts Jesus (d c. ad 30) as the Christ (Gr.: ‘Anointed one’), as divine rather than prophetic. Also central to Christian belief is the idea of the salvation of the soul through citizenship of the kingdom of God, which is attained in the rite of baptism. There are now three main branches of Christianity—Orthodox (the Eastern Church), and Roman Catholic and Protestant (the Western Church)—but there are also many sects (see also Baptists and Congregationalists; Calvinism; Friends, Religious Society of; Huguenots; Lutheranism; Methodism; Mormons; Shakers; Unitarianism). The life of Jesus is given in the Gospels. Born, according to these and in accordance with Christian prophecy, of a virgin, he was an itinerant preacher who went to Judaea from Nazareth in Galilee. He proclaimed the advent of God’s kingdom on earth, witnessed in his own presence and in his teaching. His activities led to his crucifixion in Jerusalem, but according to Christian doctrine he was resurrected and assumed bodily into Heaven. The Christian message was spread by his closest disciples, the Apostles, but above all by St Paul (...

Article

Katrin Kogman-Appel

Hebrew Bible (Jerusalem, National.. Library of Israel., MS. Heb 4°790, and a single page in Toledo, El Transito Synagogue and Sephardic Museum), copied c. 1260, perhaps in Toledo by Menachem ben Abraham ibn Malikh for Isaac bar Abraham Hadad, both members of known and documented Toledan families. At some later stage further decorations were added, apparently in Burgos. The Damascus Keter is an outstanding exemplar out of approximately 120 decorated Bibles from Iberia and belongs to a group of three very similar codices from the middle of the 13th century, produced in Toledo. It thus represents a rich tradition of Jewish art flourishing between the 13th and the 15th centuries. These Bibles were used either by scholars for private study, or for biblical readings during synagogue services.

Typical of numerous Bibles from the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula, the decoration consists of numerous carpet pages executed in Micrography and enriched by painted embellishments. This is a technique typically used in Hebrew decorated books and harks back to Middle Eastern manuscripts of the 10th century. Apart from the carpet pages, the Damascus ...

Article

Malcolm A. R. Colledge, Joseph Gutmann and Andrew R. Seager

[now Qal‛at as Sāliḩīyah.]

Site of a Hellenistic and Roman walled city in eastern Syria, on a plateau between two gorges on the west bank of the middle Euphrates. The name combines elements that are Semitic (Dura) and Macedonian Greek (Europos). Dura Europos was founded by the Seleucids in the late 4th century bc at the intersection of east–west caravan routes and the trade route along the Euphrates. It was later a frontier fortress of the Parthian empire and after its capture in ad 165 fulfilled the same role for the Roman empire. After the Sasanian siege in ad 256–7 the city was abandoned. The results of excavations by French and American archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s threw light on the process of synthesis between Classical and indigenous populations and cultures in Syria-Palestine during Hellenistic and Imperial Roman times. The excavated remains include a synagogue (see §3) with an important cycle of biblical paintings and an Early Christian meeting-house (...

Article

Margaret Lyttleton

(b c. 79 bc; reg 37–4 bc; d 4 bc). King of Judaea and patron. By a series of successful intrigues and pro-Roman policy, he established himself as the heir of the Maccabean kings and considerably extended their territory. He more or less re-established the ancient kingdom of Judah and achieved virtual independence. With the arrival in the East of the Roman general Pompey (66 bc), the balance of power changed and Rome began to absorb this territory. Herod, by skilful diplomacy and intrigue, maintained himself as king of Judaea, with independence in local affairs. He was a great admirer of Rome and Greco-Roman culture; he set out to make his towns and cities similar to the Hellenistic towns of the Roman Empire. The historian Josephus recorded that Herod erected a vast number of buildings both in his own kingdom and as far afield as the Dodekanese, Tyre and Beirut. He refounded the city of ...

Article

Jerome Murphy O’Connor, Michael Turner, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Leen Ritmeyer, Robert Hillenbrand and Alan Borg

[Heb. Yerushalayim; Arab. al-Quds]

City sacred to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, now in Israel. It is built on limestone hills in the central plateau of Judaea, and limited by the Kidron Valley on the east and the Hinnom Valley on the west and south.

Following Jerusalem’s inclusion in the Roman and Byzantine empires, Muslim forces captured Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099, when European Crusaders captured the city and transformed many of its Muslim monuments. They held it until 1187, when Saladin reconquered the city for Islam. Subsequently held by the Mamluk (to 1516) and Ottoman sultans, the city became the administrative centre of the British mandate in Palestine during World War I. In 1949 Israel declared that [west] Jerusalem was its capital city; following the annexation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel unilaterally declared that [undivided] Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, although Palestinians continue to maintain that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state....

Article

Jean Robertson

(b Jerusalem, 1969).

Israeli sculptor and video, performance and installation artist. She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she was awarded a BFA in 1994 and continued post-graduate studies in 1995. She spent a semester at the Cooper Union School of Art and Design, New York, as an exchange student in 1993. She moved to Tel Aviv in 1996. Landau represented Israel in 1997 at the Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta X that same summer. Since then she became internationally known for complex, ambitious installations that have included video projections, decaying materials such as rotting fruit and cotton candy, and sometimes life-size Ecorché (flayed) figures fashioned by the artist of Papier mâché with surfaces that look like bloody sinew. From 2005, Landau submerged various objects in the Dead Sea then dried them in the desert sun, the salt coating forming a crystallized surface; some are found objects, others are sculptural forms made of barbed wire. The salt-encrusted objects—including lampshade-like forms—became components of installations. She also made individual sculptures of bronze and other materials....

Article

Masada  

Rachel Hachlili

[Heb. Mezadah]

Fortress on a flat-topped rock on the eastern side of the Judean Desert in Israel; to the east, the rock terminates in a sheer cliff 400 m above the Dead Sea. According to the Jewish Roman historian Josephus Flavius (ad 37–after 93), whose account of Masada is the only extant one, it was built (probably c. 37–31 bc) by Herod the Great. During the period of the Jewish War (ad 66–73), it was garrisoned by the Jewish Zealots, who made their last stand there against the Romans. Three years after the capture of Jerusalem, the defenders of Masada, having held the fortress during a three-year siege, destroyed themselves when it was about to fall.

Masada was encircled by a dolomite stone wall with casemates: the space between the two walls was partitioned into 70 compartments. Each of the four gates consisted of a room with an inner and an outer entrance and benches along the walls. Rising from small casemates, the 30 towers were built at unequal distances, according to the rock’s topography. An elaborate water-supply system consisted of numerous cisterns linked by channels; there were also several pools, some probably associated with ritual bathing....

Article

Gabrielle Sed-Rajna and Shalom Sabar

Parchment scroll containing the text of the Old Testament Book of Esther, which recounts the deliverance of the Jews from persecution in the Persian empire and which was probably written during the reign of the Hasmonean Jewish king John Hyrcanus (reg c. 135–105 bc). The Book of Esther has since then traditionally been read in the synagogue on the festival of Purim, for which purpose it was copied separately in the form of a scroll (Megillah; see also Jewish art §VI 3.).

Those scrolls intended for use in the synagogue had no ornament, but every well-off family had an elegantly decorated scroll for its own use, kept in a costly silver case (see Jewish art §VI 3.). It is not possible to trace the history of the decorated Megillah (pl. Megillat); a few exceptional and relatively old pieces served as models and were frequently copied. A 14th-century manuscript (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. hébr. 324, fol. 180) has the earliest description of a scroll of Esther, showing a cantor holding an undecorated Megillah. The illustrations of the Castilian ...

Article

Herbert Kessler

(b Jerusalem, Dec 14, 1926; d Jerusalem, June 29, 2008).

Israeli art historian of Jewish art. Educated first at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he moved to London and earned an MA in art history at the Courtauld Institute (1959) and a PhD at the Warburg Institute (1962). Returning to Jerusalem, Narkiss rose steadily through the ranks from 1963 when he began teaching at the Hebrew University and, in 1984, was appointed Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History. He also held fellowships and visiting positions at: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC (1969–70); the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1979–80); the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (1983), Brown University in Providence, RI (1984–5); the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris (1987–8); the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC (Samuel H. Kress Professor ...

Article

Ossuary  

Ye. V. Zeymal’

A container for the bones of the dead. Ossuaries, sometimes known as cinerary urns, were objects of art in many cultures from prehistoric times (see e.g. Jewish art §VI 1.). This article deals with the development of ossuaries in western Central Asia, where they were commonly used in the local Zoroastrian burial rituals (see Central Asia §I 1., (v), (a)) from the first centuries ad until the Muslim conquest of the region in the 8th and 9th centuries. Hundreds of examples are preserved in museums and other collections. Made from baked clay, plaster or—very rarely—stone, the typical ossuary was a small lidded receptacle (maximum l. 700 mm) of rectangular or oval form. The design and technique of decoration differed significantly over time and throughout the areas in which ossuaries have been found.

The study of ossuaries began after large numbers were discovered in Samarkand and Tashkent at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. Initial interest focused on their ethnic origins and especially their religious significance, to the point that attempts were made to interpret simple crosses on the ossuaries as a sign of a link with Christianity or to compare them with Jewish ossuaries, known from finds in Jerusalem, Egypt and Mauritania. Some scholars even assumed that the ossuaries were somehow linked with Manichaeism or even Central Asian Buddhism. It has now been firmly established that such ossuaries were part of the burial ceremony of a special Central Asian form of Zoroastrianism, sometimes known as Mazdeism after the supreme deity Ahura Mazda and substantially different from orthodox Iranian Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrians believe that the earth should not be defiled by the remains of the dead and that the bones of the dead should be kept to ensure a successful resurrection. The body was displayed for a certain time in a ‘tower of silence’ (Pers. ...

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

Michael Turner

[Shlomo Zalman Dov]

(b Vrno, Lithuania ?1866; d Denver, CO, March 22, 1932).

Lithuanian sculptor and painter, active in Palestine. Born into a poor, orthodox Jewish family, he attended rabbinical school in Vilna (now Vilnius; 1882–7). During this period he studied art at the local academy and, affected by the anti-Semitism of the period, developed left-wing political interests and the connections to an emancipated Jewish art form. His personal history generated three distinct artistic periods: the early activities in Paris (until 1895), the Bulgarian period (until 1903) and the later Jewish period in Palestine. His first known oil painting, the Dying Will (c. 1886; priv. col., see 1933 exh. cat., no. M16), was typical of late 19th-century romanticism. In 1888 he moved to Warsaw, working intensely on sculptures, reliefs and lithographs. His concept of art for a Jewish national agenda and propaganda was published that year as an article ‘Craftsmanship’ in the Hebrew newspaper Hazfira, forming the basis for his later works. After his marriage (...

Article

Mendel Metzger

Family of Jewish printers, active in Italy, Turkey and Egypt. They originated in Germany but emigrated to Lombardy and settled in Soncino near Crema in 1454, taking the name of the town as their patronymic. Their first printing press was set up in Soncino by Yoshua (d 1493) and Moses (d 1489), sons of Israel Nathan (d 1492?), a physician. The family was active between 1483, the date of Yoshua’s first book, and 1562, when the 184th and last publication was printed by his great-great-nephew in Cairo. Seven family members were printers: Yoshua, his brother Moses, Moses’s sons Solomon and Gershom [Hieronymus Soncinus] (d 1534), Gershom’s children Moses and Eliezer (d 1547) and Eliezer’s son Gershom (d 1562). Yoshua published only Hebrew books (42 editions, all incunabula) during his short career (1483–9 in Soncino, 1489–92 in Naples). Gershom’s career, however, was one of the longest (...

Article

[Lat.: ‘tent’]

Place of worship other than a temple or church. The term was used for the demountable tent put up by the Israelites in the wilderness, as described in the book of Exodus. In modern times it is sometimes applied to temporary structures erected by dissenting religious groups (e.g. the Baptists and other nonconformists)....