Jacob Perlow Series

Is There A Jewish Art?

Jed Perl photo by Kelsey Floyd
Photo by Kelsey Floyd

A public lecture to be delivered by art critic Jed Perl with an introduction by Robert Boyers, English Department

Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 8 PM
Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall • Free and open to the public

The Jewish tradition has been grappling with the power of visual experience for thousands of years, from the Second Commandment’s rejection of graven images to the work of El Lissitzky, Marc Chagall, Mark Rothko, and Barnett Newman. What can we learn from this rich, many-faceted evolution? Is there a Jewish art or a Jewish tradition in the arts?

Jed Perl will argue that there is a tradition – a tradition grounded not in naturalistic experience but in the power of the visual arts to order our experience of the world. In a lecture ranging from the descriptions of the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus to the contemporary painter R. B. Kitaj’s First Diasporist Manifesto, Perl will examine paintings and ritual objects as well as the architecture of synagogues and the arrangement of the dinner table for the Sabbath meal. We will see how major twentieth-century art historians and critics have grappled with the relationship between ancient traditions and modern avowals. The Jewish tradition in the visual arts, with its rejection of naturalistic representation, foreshadows modernity’s vision of the arts as a reshaping of reality – or an alternate reality.

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The Search for Major Plagge, the Nazi who saved Jews:
a story of moral courage in the midst of the Holocaust

Michael Good headshot

A lecture to be delivered by Dr. Michael Good with an introduction by Bernard Possidente, Biology Department

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 7:30 PM
Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall • Free and open to the public

Michael Good, a physician from Durham, CT, is the author of a book documenting the efforts of an obscure German army major to protect Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Vilna, Poland during WWII. One of the Jews who escaped was Dr. Good’s mother. Michael Good returned to Vilna and began tracking down the fate of Major Karl Plagge and some of the survivors he rescued. Good’s book, The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews (Fordham University Press, 2006), documents those wartime events, and Dr. Good’s efforts to find out who Major Plagge was and why he did what he did.

Dr. Good has spoken about his book and these events all over the world, inspiring and challenging audiences in ways that are directly relevant to today’s world.

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About the Jacob Perlow Series: A generous grant from the estate of Jacob Perlow - an immigrant to the United States in the 1920s, a successful business man deeply interested in religion and philosophy, and a man who was committed to furthering Jewish education - supports annual lectures and presentations to the College and Capital District community on issues broadly related to Jews and Judaism.