The Judaic Art Gallery was founded in 1983 by Abram Kanof (1903–99), a scholar of Jewish art. The mission of the gallery has been to illuminate the spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic heritage of the Jewish people through memorable works of ceremonial art. The artworks in this gallery range over three centuries and four continents, embracing a wide variety of forms and artistic styles. Together they attest to the power of art in the service of faith and community.
As you move through the gallery, try to notice a guiding principle in Judaism of hiddur mitzvah, which means to “glorify” or “enhance” a commandment. It teaches that the dignity of a religious act or observance is enhanced by beautifully made ceremonial and ritual objects. Inspired by hiddur mitzvah, artists from many cultural traditions have created a powerful, flourishing legacy of ceremonial art to embellish the synagogue, home, and objects like the Torah scroll. Other works include those used to celebrate the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays and festivals and to assist in rites that mark life’s passage from birth to death.
The gallery is divided into three sections:
∙ Pieces recently added to the collection
∙ Objects for the home observance of festivals and holidays and the Jewish life cycle
∙ Decorative works that adorn the synagogue and the sacred Torah scroll
The Judaic art collection is integrated into the European art galleries to explore the connections among artistic expressions and faith traditions.
John W. Coffey
Curator Emeritus of Judaic Art
Gabriel M. Goldstein
Consulting Curator of Judaic Art