Yeshiva University Museum has received a $40,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the exhibition Shaping Time: The Art and Culture of the Jewish Calendar.
The grant is part of the Public Humanities Projects program of the NEH, which supports projects that bring the ideas and insights of the humanities to life for general audiences. Projects must engage humanities scholarship to analyze significant themes in disciplines such as history, literature, ethics and art history.
The grant will allow exhibition curator Emily Bilski and lead project advisor Sharon Liberman Mintz (Curator of Jewish Art at the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Senior Consultant for Judaica at Sotheby’s New York) to develop a multifaceted interpretive program exploring the Jewish calendar in historical and comparative perspectives.
They will work with two lead scholarly advisers: Sacha Stern, Professor of Rabbinic Judaism, Head of Department in Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London (UCL), and a leading international expert in the field of calendar studies; and Elisheva Carlebach, Salo Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture, and Society, director of the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University, and author of Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe, which was awarded the Association for Jewish Studies Schnitzer Prize.
Additional consultants on the project are Sarit Kattan Gribetz, Associate Professor of Classical Judaism at Fordham University, who has particular expertise on the Jewish calendar and its development during the rabbinic period and on aspects of the calendar as they relate to the historical experience of Jewish women; and Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collection at the National Library of Israel, who will offer in-depth expertise on the Islamic calendar, on the mutual connections and influences between Islamic and Jewish cultures around the calendar, and on the transfer of knowledge that took place between these cultures with regard to the calendar.
NEH panelists who reviewed the proposal were enthusiastic about the core idea and the project’s leaders, noting in their report that the museum “has an excellent track record in attracting a diverse audience,” and that the concept is “super creative.”
Scheduled to debut in the Yeshiva University Museum’s galleries in the Center for Jewish History in autumn 2024, pending further support, the exhibition will showcase an array of objects in a variety of media that date from antiquity to the present: art, artifacts, scientific instruments, manuscripts and objects of popular culture in combination with video and interactive displays to demonstrate the myriad ways the calendar has inspired centuries of Jewish communal and individual creativity. Important calendars and calendrical materials will be borrowed from private collections and museums, some paired with media components that will offer opportunities for learning and stimulate intellectual reflection.