Art is a Camera
Ever since the Second Commandment, with its prohibition of "images," Judaism has been an un-, or even anti-visual culture. Or so we are told. While there is some truth to this notion, it is a very limited truth. The realities—historical, philosophical, above all aesthetic—are much more complicated and much more interesting. After all, the Bible itself tells us that at Sinai the people "saw the voices."
Scholars have demonstrated the rich visual culture at work in Jewish history, as well as the role of the visual imagination in theology and mysticism—and in the daily experience of those for whom Judaism is "A Way of Being." And it is well known that Jews have richly participated in the making of modern art.
Art is not only a vehicle of expression, it is also a window onto the lives of its creators and its audience, offering metaphors and analogies relevant to other contexts. For one historian, Jewish institutional architecture provides a comment on communal values. For a student of Jewish thought, a deep dialogue can be seen between early-20th-century aesthetic theory and the work of prominent Jewish philosophers.
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