Yeshiva University News » Jacob Wisse

Stern College for Women Course Places Art and Jewish Thought in Conversation

In some ways, a recent meeting of “The Image and the Idea,” a new course offered at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women this fall, looked like many other art history classrooms across the country.


Dr. Jacob Wisse, left, speaks to students in the course about the Sistine Chapel.

Projected on the whiteboard was “The Creation of Adam,” the classic fresco painting by Michelangelo that graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Dr. Jacob Wisse, associate professor of art history and director of the Yeshiva University Museum, discussed the religious and historical context of the painting, Michelangelo’s sculptural style and his goals as an artist. Then, pausing for comments, he took one—from Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, assistant professor of Judaic studies and director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, sitting at a desk near the front of the room.

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YU Museum Exhibition Showcases Astonishing Pre-WWII Contributions of Jewish Mathematicians in German Culture

The people of the book have an illustrious legacy with numbers, as a fascinating new exhibition co-presented by the Leo Baeck Institute and Yeshiva University Museum reveals.

David Hilbert with friends, students and family.  Göttingen was considered the “Mecca” of mathematics in the early 20th century. The city achieved its international renown largely due to the influence of (the non-Jewish) David Hilbert and Felix Klein, aided by a large number of significant Jewish mathematicians and physicists. More than a few of Hilbert’s 73 doctoral students were Jewish, including Otto Blumenthal, Max Dehn, Felix Bernstein, Ernst Hellinger, Alfréd Haar, Richard Courant, Hugo Steinhaus, and Jacob Grommer. This extremely productive period came to an abrupt end with their exclusion and expulsion after 1933.

Mathematician David Hilbert with friends, students and family.

Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture showcases the astonishing contributions of Jewish thinkers to mathematical culture in Germany before the Nazis decimated their ranks.

Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) and the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) are partners at the Center for Jewish History in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City. YUM is dedicated to the presentation and interpretation of the artistic and cultural achievements of Jewish life. Read the rest of this entry…

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YU and OU Mark Start of Masechet Eruvin in the Daf Yomi Cycle with Special Lecture and YU Museum Tour 

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and Yeshiva University Museum will be hosting a special lecture for all audiences by YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter to mark the beginning of Masechet Eruvin in the Daf Yomi study cycle.  The lecture, titled “Eruvin: the Streets, the Strings and the Shabbat,” will be presented in cooperation with the Orthodox Union on March 13 at the YU Museum in Manhattan and complements the YU Museum’s exhibition It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond (on display through June 30).  A curatorial tour and viewing of the exhibition will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7:00 p.m.  The YU Museum is located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th Street, near Union Square. Read the rest of this entry…


Covenant Foundation Awards YU Museum Grant for Educational Partnership with Lincoln Center Institute 

On the basis of an innovative arts-based educational program, Yeshiva University Museum is the recipient of a prestigious Signature Grant from The Covenant Foundation, which develops and supports Jewish education and community-building projects and programs in the U.S.

Yeshiva University Museum will receive $135,900 over three years to expand Re-Imagining Jewish Education through Art, an initiative that uses the arts and critical inquiry to enhance and deepen learning and appreciation of Jewish texts and of art.

Through the program, the museum adapts an arts-based educational approach and philosophy pioneered by the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education, and re-conceives and applies it in Jewish schools. Read the rest of this entry…


A Potent Symbol of Jewish Life in America, the Eruv Gets Unprecedented Exhibition at YU Museum

It divides private and public, sacred and secular, work and Sabbath. And you might live in one without knowing it.

The elevated train track on 3rd Ave was the western border of Manhattan¹s first eruv. Chatham Square (pictured here) was on the western edge of the Lower East Side. (YU Museum collection)

The eruv is one of the most fascinating, though little understood and sometimes controversial concepts in Jewish life. Now, for the first time, it’s the subject of an exhibition—It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond—at the Yeshiva University Museum, near Union Square in Manhattan. Read the rest of this entry…


Yeshiva University Museum Presents Fourth Annual Stern College Senior Art Show

Artwork by Stern College for Women students will be on display at the Yeshiva University Museum in Revelation: The Fourth Annual Stern College Senior Art Show. Presenting 38 works by graduating studio art majors, the exhibition provides a window into the art-making approach, as well as the personal observations and insights of 11 young Jewish female artists.

Leah Fried, “Self Explanatory”

A rich mix of styles, techniques and technologies, Revelation includes digital photography, oil painting, stop-motion animation and stone sculpture, among other media.  The wide-ranging subjects reflect the students’ intellectual and emotional curiosity, from Lauren Kahn’s striking sculptures of New York City manhole covers to Dina Wecker’s minutely detailed pen-and-ink aerial Manhattan skyline to Jordana Chernofsky’s pointillist nature paintings to Melissa Zehnwirth’s glam-inspired screen print.  The show was guided by Traci Tullius, the acclaimed video and performance artist who leads Stern College’s studio art program. Read the rest of this entry…


Renowned New York Artist Designs Textiles for the Altneuschul in Prague, Europe’s Oldest Synagogue

Before a series of richly designed new textiles is installed in one of the most iconic, oldest and continually active synagogues in Europe, it will be unveiled at Yeshiva University Museum in the exhibition Old and the New: Mark Podwal’s Textiles for the Altneuschul in Prague from November 27, 2011–January 15, 2012.

Old and the New will be on display at the YU Museum from Nov. 27 –Jan. 15.

The textiles, which include a Torah ark cover, three Torah mantles and covers for the Torah reading and cantor’s desks represent the first major commission for the sanctuary of Prague’s Altneuschul in over 70 years. Built in 1270, the Altneuschul, or “Old-New Synagogue,” is celebrated for its architectural beauty and legendary provenance–myth has it its stones were brought by angels. It is one of the few Gothic synagogues in existence and sits at the center of Prague’s Jewish Quarter, a vibrant community famed for its scholars, mystics, writers and intellectuals. Perhaps the most famous of the synagogue’s legends is the Prague Golem, believed to lie dormant in the attic of the building to be restored again, if needed, to defend the Jews.

Mark Podwal, an internationally recognized New York-based artist, author and physician, has long been engaged with Prague and its famed Jewish Quarter. The textiles are the latest and most ambitious of his works relating to Prague’s Jewish Community.

“With its history, mystical legends and remarkable beauty, the Altneuschul is one of the world’s great Jewish monuments–and a living one,” said Podwal, who is known for his drawings on The New York Times Op-Ed page and is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Jewish Museum in Prague and many others. “To be able to contribute to the ongoing religious and communal function of the synagogue is a humbling honor. It was daunting but exciting to make works that reflect and speak to the character of Prague’s broad and rich Jewish fabric.”

Complementing the textiles in the exhibition is a detailed historic model of the Altneuschul (part of YU Museum’s permanent collection), a selection of complimentary graphic work by the artist, and a short original film that charts Podwal’s artistic engagement with Prague and features a behind-the-scenes look at the textiles’ creation.

“We are delighted and privileged to unveil Mark’s striking textiles and to give a New York audience the opportunity to appreciate their beauty as objects as well as their rich liturgical and cultural context,” said Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum. “We think viewers should, and will, appreciate the way a fresh aesthetic vision has been used to complement a historic site, and how the magic of the synagogue’s and its city’s story are brought to life through the exhibition.”

In collaboration with renowned New York textile designers Penn & Fletcher, Podwal used modern technology to create vignettes of the centuries-old Jewish Community. The six embroidered velvet pieces, which will be shipped for their dedication at the synagogue in March of 2012, are presented in the exhibition as they will appear in the Altneuschul sanctuary.

Old and the New: Mark Podwal’s Textiles for the Altneuschul in Prague is presented by Yeshiva University Museum in conjunction with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York.

Public Programs and Gallery Talks

Wednesday December 14, 2011 (5-6 p.m.)

Curator’s tour in the exhibition gallery.

Sunday, December 18, 2011 (2-3 p.m.)

Artist’s talk in the exhibition gallery.

Monday, December 19, 2011 (6-8 p.m.)

Public program featuring the artist on the historic, religious and cultural context of the Altneuschul and the Prague Jewish Community.

Wednesday January 11, 2012 (5-6 p.m.)

Curator’s tour in the exhibition gallery.

Yeshiva University Museum, 15 W. 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, 212.294.8330,

Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Monday: 5–8 p.m. (FREE); Wednesday: 11 a.m.–8 p.m. (FREE 5–8 p.m.); Friday: 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. (FREE).

Adults: $8; Seniors and Students: $6; Members and Children under 5: Free; YU Faculty, Administration and Students: Free with valid ID.


Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum, visits the set of Good Day Street Talk and shares some of the rich traditions and cultural history of Rosh Hashanah. Wisse also previews upcoming exhibitions at the YU Museum, including Jews on Vinyl, Prophecy of Place and Graphic Details.

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Groundbreaking Exhibition Featuring All-Star Roster of Comix Artists Over Four Decades Has its NYC Premiere at YU Museum

The genre-bending influence of Jewish women in comics will get a rare spotlight as the acclaimed Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women exhibition arrives at the Yeshiva University Museum on September 25, 2011.

From Escape from “Special”, by Miss Lasko-Gross, Fantagraphic Books, 2006

Escape from “Special”, by Miss Lasko-Gross, Fantagraphic Books, 2006

Featuring original work by 18 of the most influential creators, Graphic Details showcases work of all-stars from the pioneering Wimmen’s Comix and Twisted Sisters artists of the 1970s and 1980s to the superstars of the new generation.  Many of the cartoons in Graphic Details have never been displayed in public until now. The artists, who hail from the U.S., Canada, Israel and the UK include Vanessa Davis, Bernice Eisenstein, Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Miss Lasko-Gross, Sarah Lazarovic, Miriam Libicki, Sarah Lightman, Diane Noomin, Corinne Pearlman, Trina Robbins, Racheli Rotner, Sharon Rudahl, Laurie Sandell, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein, and Ilana Zeffren.

This well-reviewed and often-startling exhibition makes its New York City debut after successful runs in San Francisco and Toronto, and provides the first in-depth look at a vibrant and prolific niche of graphic storytelling—Jewish women’s autobiographical comics. While the influential role of Jews in cartooning has long been acknowledged, the role of Jewish women in shaping the medium is still largely unexplored. This exhibition of original drawings, full comic books and graphic novels presents the powerful work of artists whose intimate and complex work has influenced the world of comics over the last four decades.

“YU Museum is proud to host the powerful work of these artists who have not, until recently, been recognized for their important role in the world of graphic storytelling and new modern forms of Jewish autobiography,” said Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the YU Museum.

Read more about the exhibit and upcoming public programs at the YU Museum here.


Quintan Ana Wikswo Explores History and Experience in Prophecy of Place at Yeshiva University Museum

In her first monographic exhibition and East Coast debut, internationally acclaimed visual artist and writer, Quintan Ana Wikswo, introduces her dreamlike and haunting large-scale, multi-panel photographs, poetry, video installations and interactive assemblages in Prophecy of Place, on display at Yeshiva University Museum (YU Museum) through January 22, 2012.

"Inquisition Plaza and Jewish Ghetto, Lisbon"

"Inquisition Plaza and Jewish Ghetto, Lisbon"

Wikswo uses damaged and salvaged antique military cameras and battlefield typewriters to explore the startling ecological beauty that obscures “traumatized” sites of crimes against humanity, and to uncover the intergenerational legacies surrounding them. These fiercely mysterious images and starkly graceful prose poems create a powerful encounter with violence and beauty revealed through a fractured, unsettling lens.

Created between 2008-2011 in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Finland and Russia, Prophecy of Place presents kaleidoscopic portraits of the astonishing and often invisible histories hidden at the heart of communities where Jews encountered exile, shelter and trauma.

Traversing 10 centuries, eight countries and five languages, the exhibition is a deeply immersive engagement with the legacy of Jewish survival and the struggle with other cultures through luminous, prismatic, multi-part contemporary photographs of villages, cities, shtetls and camps – sites where Jews have faced devastating attacks or attempts at cultural annihilation.

The works reverberate with contrasting abstractions of man-made, natural and ephemeral elements that reveal medieval cities, ancient forests or fields of wildflowers where thousands of people were persecuted or killed: the fields outside Strasbourg where mobs burned Jews accused of spreading plague; the Inquisition Plaza in the Jewish ghetto of Lisbon; the unmarked site of the Forced-Sex Brothel at Dachau; mass execution sites in the forests of Lithuania; and the disquietingly tranquil facades of Nazi medical facilities in Berlin.

“As historian and artist, I’m intrigued by human and ecological echoes at places fractured by trauma and political violence–sites of communal catastrophe that bear often invisible records of deep traumatic emotion. I look for points of intimacy and tenderness in these places on the earth that seem to utterly deny safety and comfort,” said Wikswo. “In locations with particularly painful histories, a certain resurrection of luminosity and beauty seems to me both absurd and essential.”

Included within Prophecy of Place are more than 35 large-format, multi-panel photographs; 10 video installations integrating poetic text, field recordings, and original music by prominent collaborating composers; and an interactive assemblage of artifacts and talismans. Visitors will have the opportunity to use a typewriter to leave notes, poems and prayers beneath polished black rocks on the table overlaid with a shifting projection of the artist’s poetry.

“Quintan Ana Wikswo is a gifted and original artist who creates stunningly beautiful and moving imagery of places with horrifically ugly provenance and background,” added Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of YU Museum. “The tension within her work reflects back movingly on recent and not-so-recent Jewish history, playing an important role of memorialization while also suggesting the possibility of a more hopeful and humane future. I think visitors to the exhibition will be struck and touched by the beauty and power of Wikswo’s work.”

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