Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time
A permanent exhibition of contemporary Jewish ritual art
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan
Living in the Moment: Contemporary Artists Celebrate Jewish Time, a landmark exhibition presenting the renaissance of ritual in our time, will be on permanent view at the HUC-JIR Museum in New York. This exhibition is New York City's only permanent exhibition
solely devoted to innovative and contemporary Jewish ceremonial
art. It offers the first significant and comprehensive view, in
over a generation, of the leading artists of all faiths who are
creating innovative and contemporary works of Jewish ritual art
This permanent exhibition showcases over 100 objects by close to
100 contemporary artists, created within the past decade, mostly
within the last year. It illuminates the Jewish conception of time
as experienced through the fulfillment of a cyclical system of daily,
weekly, and lunar-calendared family and communal moments, as well
as a linear, messianic conception of time. Among the celebrated
artists, working in various media, are Bennett Bean, Kurt J. Matzdorf,
Albert Paley, Steven Weinberg, and Laurie Wohl. The permanent exhibition
features select works of ceremonial art from the 125th anniversary
exhibition, which were designed for virtually every key moment in
Jewish life: the life cycle from birth to death, the yearly religious
holiday cycle, the practice of Judaism in the home, the communal
and synagogue-based celebrations and commemorations, and the historical,
linear progression of Jewish belief from creation to messianic redemption.
A special feature is the presentation of objects that have been
designed for many holidays, commemorations, and celebrations that
have emerged within the Jewish community over the past 50 years:
rituals relating to women's lives, ranging from the naming of baby
girls to the bat mitzvah and Rosh Hodesh (new moon) observance,
the commemoration of the Holocaust, and celebration of Israeli statehood.
Commissioned especially for this exhibition, these works are available
for acquisition, so that they can enter into the lives of families
Prior to the 19th century, Jewish ritual art was created by non-Jewish
artists, since Jews were banned from craft guilds. With emancipation,
Jews were empowered to become artists and crafts persons. In the
early 20th century, the focus of Jewish craftsmanship was centered
on Palestine and Europe. With the destruction of the Holocaust,
the creation of contemporary ceremonial art was sustained in Israel
and North America through the work of a limited number of artists
and a handful of workshops. Within the past decade, the number of
artists creating contemporary ritual art internationally has grown
tremendously. The most celebrated of these artists and crafts persons,
represented in leading museum and private collections, are represented
in this exhibition.
The creation of Jewish ritual art is mandated in the biblical injunction
of hiddur mitzvah [the beautification of the fulfillment of the
commandments of the Torah]. The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 113b
explains: "Beautify yourself Before God in mitzvot [commandments].
Make before God a beautiful sukkah [temporary dwelling for the holiday
of Sukkot], a beautiful tzitzit [prayer shawl fringes], a beautiful
Sefer Torah [Torah scroll] , and write it for God's sake with beautiful
ink, a beautiful pen, by a skilled scribe and wrap it in a beautiful
Laura Kruger, Curator of the exhibition and Chair of the HUC-JIR
Museum in New York, noted: "Diversity, insight, scholarship, and
technique combine to invest contemporary Judaic ritual objects with
vitality and beauty. Paralleling the development of the contemporary
craft movement in the latter half of the twentieth century, ritual
objects for the enhancement of the sanctuary and of domestic celebration
in the Jewish community are much in evidence. Artisans eagerly explore
the symbolism of their heritage and extend themselves to the highest
levels of craftsmanship. New inclusive ceremonies celebrating the
role of women, as well as a deep interpretation of text has given
rise to the creation of ritual treasures. Working with the oldest
of materials as well as some never before considered appropriate,
the artists and crafts persons have enriched our lives with objects
of aesthetic value."
Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Exhibitions Director of the HUC-JIR Museum
in New York, added, "This exhibition reflects HUC-JIR's mission:
to apply to contemporary life the sustaining values of our Jewish
tradition. Through this exhibition, we are highlighting the vitality
of the visual arts as part of the renaissance in Jewish cultural,
religious, and educational life taking place in Jewish communities
throughout North America. HUC-JIR seeks to engage the larger community
and visitors of all faiths in a dialogue on contemporary expressions
of time, art, and ritual, and their meaning for our time."
Amplifying the exhibition is a 48-page, illustrated catalog which
includes statements by the artists.
Admission to the HUC-JIR Museum is free.
Click here to view the Living in the Moment Online Exhibition.
Location: One West 4th Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street), Manhattan; Subway: R/W to 8th St./NYU; 6 to Astor Place; A/C/E/B/D/F/V to W. 4th St.
Admission: FREE. Photo ID required.
- Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Friday, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
- Select Sundays, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Contact: email@example.com or (212) 824-2218