Medieval Jewish Art

It is characteristic for scholarship concerning art made for Jews to position this art squarely in relation to Christian imagery: viewed as either having been influenced by, or created in response to it. Certainly, Jews and Christians in medieval Europe did not live in hermetically enclosed societies, completely distinct from one another: the interaction between the two communities is well-documented.  But the notion of “influence” is thorny at best, dangerous at worst, especially when it comes to the exchanges between a majority and a minority culture, whereby the significance of Jewish art is diminished and submerged by the implicit assumption that it has to respond in some way to images made for Christians. In several new projects, which range from zoocephalic imagery in Hebrew manuscripts to liturgical implements used during the Havdalah ritual, I hope to shift focus from intention to reception and consider these images and these objects on their own terms.

I am preparing three essays on the subject for publication and collaborating on a new book with two colleagues.

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