YU Presents Community Beit Midrash Program

Interdisciplinary Seminar on Art History and Jewish Thought to be Offered at YU Museum in October 

Yeshiva University will present a Community Beit Midrash program at the Yeshiva University Museum in the fall. The Image and the Idea is a six-week interdisciplinary seminar on art history and Jewish thought taught collaboratively by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum and associate professor of art history at Stern College for Women.

Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson
Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson

The course will explore the process through which art and artists use physical means to achieve spiritual or intangible ends and the ways that Judaism and Jewish sources deal with the tension between the physical and the spiritual and between the visual and the intellectual.

“The course offers a unique opportunity to explore the compatibility of and tension between traditional Jewish thought and traditional art and art history,” said Wisse. “We will address the ways that Judaism is sensitive and responsive to the power and character of art, and also the ways the greatest artists channel ideas that we associate with Jewish ways of thinking. We are eager and fortunate to explore these issues with a community of YU alumni because they are sensitive to and probably themselves grappling with themes embedded in the class – issues related to the confluence and tension between the image and the idea.”

Since February 2013, the program has offered several sessions, with more than 200 participants to date.

“Bridging the world of Judaism and that of art was an intellectually exhilarating experience,” said Rabbi Soloveichik. “I am delighted that I will be able to engage in this project once more with my extraordinary colleague and friend Professor Wisse.”

The series is sponsored by Congregation Shearith Israel, The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, where Rabbi Soloveichik serves as rabbi. The seminar will meet at the Yeshiva University Museum, located in the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street in New York City), where it will make use of the Museum’s special exhibitions and collections. Classes will be given on Wednesdays, from October 29 through December 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

To register for the Community Beit Midrash, visit yu.edu/beitmidrash. For more information about the program and weekly sponsorship opportunities, please contact Julie Schreier, director of the Long Island region, at julie.schreier@yu.edu (516.972.2920) or Nehama Cohen, assistant director of Community Partnerships, at nscohen@yu.edu (212.960.5400 x.6350).