Three papers were presented at the third international conference on Tunisian Jewry at Bar-Ilan University May 17-19, 2000 based on Center expeditions to Tunisia. Prof. Bezalel Narkiss spoke on "Synagogues in Djerba." Ariella Amar, Head of the Synagogues and Ritual Objects Section delivered a paper entitled: "Between Tunisia and Livorno: A Comparative Study." Efrat Assaf-Schapira, a master’s student in the Synagogues and Ritual Objects Section presented a lecture on "Tunisian Torah Cases."
“Identity and Memory: Achievements and Goals in the Study of Oriental Jewish Communities on the Verge of the Twenty-first Century” was an international conference co-sponsored by the Ben-Zvi Institute and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem May 22-25, 2000. It included a presentation made by Ariella Amar entitled “Documentation of Synagogues in North Africa.”
CJA Director Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin was featured as a distinguished speaker at a “Cathedral Workshop” sponsored by the Council of Europe and its Heritage Committee in Ireland. The October 2000 conference was entitled “The Sacred Art of Calligraphy and Illuminated Manuscripts – The Challenge of Promoting Liturgical Book Arts at the Dawn of the New Millennium.” Prof. Cohen-Mushlin's topic was “Scribes and Artists in Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts.”
MORDECHAI and NASSIA NARKISS LECTURE SERIES:
Since Hanukkah of 1988, the Center for Jewish Art has designated this festive time of year as a fitting opportunity to honour the memory of Mordechai and Nassia Narkiss. Mordechai Narkiss, a scholar of Jewish art, was the founder of the Bezalel Museum which later became the Israel Museum. Nassia his wife was a prominent early childhood educator. The highlight of this event is the presentation of the annual Mordechai and Nassia Narkiss Prize to an individual from the Center or outside it who has made a significant contribution to “Achievement in Research on Jewish Art.”
In 2000 this prize was awarded to Architect Dr.Sergei Kravtzov. Dr. Kravtzov, a native of Lvov, received his doctorate in the history of architecture from the Institute of History and Theory of Architecture and Town Planning in Moscow. He immigrated to Israel one year later. Working in the Index’s Architecture section since 1994, Dr. Kravtzov is responsible for creating the CJA’s state-of-the-art three-dimensional computerized documentation of synagogue architecture.
In 2001 the prize was awarded to the renowned architect David Cassuto, a longtime friend of the Center and a passionate scholar of Italian Jewish art and architecture. Born in Florence, Italy, Cassuto made aliyah in 1945. After his military service he studied architecture and town planning at the Technion. In addition to notable contributions in his field including the design of numerous synagogues, Cassuto was very active in establishing the Italian Jewish Museum and Research Center of which he was Chairman for many years. He was one of the founders of the Society for Jewish Art and has published extensively on the subject.
In addition to awarding the annual prize, the four-week Narkiss lecture series gives an accounting of the work done by the various sections of the Index in the previous year. In 2000 the series featured lectures on synagogues in former Yugoslavia (Dr. Samuel Albert, Architectural Historian), a hidden decoration program in Piemonte (Ariella Amar, IJA Section Head), the community of Alsace (Ruth Jacoby, CJA Deputy Director). The 2001 series featured lectures on gestures in prayer (Michal Sternthal, IJA Section Head), Romaniot and Sephardim in Greece (Ariella Amar, IJA Section Head), the story of Jonah in the work of Uriel Birnbaum (Dr. Haya Freidberg, IJA Section Head).
This lecture series was sponsored with the generous support of Sotheby's Israel.
Wooden models of fifteen German synagogues, some destroyed on Kristallnacht, some still standing, were featured in an exhibition entitled “Synagogues in Germany: From Baroque to Modernism” in June 2000. The exhibition in Braunschweig was organized by architects Katrin Kessler, Ulrich Knufinke and Simon Paulus and supported by the Niedersächsische Lottostiftung and the Stiftung Nord/LB-Öffentliche. An address on “Jewish Identity through Art” delivered by Prof. Bezalel Narkiss, Director of the Index of Jewish Art, opened the lecture series devoted to the topic of Jews, Judaism and architecture which ran concurrent with the exhibition. Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin spoke about “The Documentation of an Endangered Heritage: Jewish Art and Architecture throughout the World.” On this occasion, the Senate of the Technical University of Braunschweig bestowed an Honourary Professorship to Prof. Aliza Cohen-Mushlin. Some of the architectural models were later displayed in Görlitz, Saxony, Hannover, and Leipzig and at the Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum. The students built additional wooden models which are permanently exhibited at the new Berlin Jewish Museum and at the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum. In March 2002 they were exhibited at the Niedersächsischen Landtag.
Ariella Amar, Head of the Synagogues and Ritual Objects Section, served as researcher and consultant for “Between Israel and the Nations,” a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Jerusalem Fairs and Conventions Bureau. Curated by Muli Ben Sassoon and Ori Reshef in cooperation with the World Center for Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, the exhibition opened in Jerusalem at the Judaica Fair in May 2000 and traveled to the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv in August-September 2000. It revealed connections between Jewish rites, art and culture and the Christian, Moslem and Hindu environments.
In collaboration with the World Center for Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University, Index researchers and section heads Ariella Amar and Michal Sternthal have helped produce a publication --“Nehar De’ah” (River of Knowledge) -- devoted to the weekly Torah portion, parshat haShavuah. This beautifully produced circular provides an arena for commentaries on the weekly sidra and is distributed through the Ministry of Education to teachers. The Jerusalem Index of Jewish Art provided year-long visual material with commentaries for each of the parshiot which added a new dimension to the commentary of the Torah portion.