Objects of Devotion: American Jewry’s Relationship to the Material World
In a trio of presentations that draws on different settings—the home, the sanctuary and the civic square—and on objects that range from stained glass windows and Kiddush cups to Ten Commandments monuments, distinguished historian Jenna Weissman Joselit explores the hold the material world has had on the American Jewish imagination—then, as now.
Thursday, March 22 | 7:00 pm
To kick things off, the first of Joselit’s three presentations looks at an unusual survey commissioned by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations way back in the 1920s on the contents of the American Jewish household. Reform Jews of the time were asked to identify what distinguished their home from that of their non-Jewish neighbors. What they reported might surprise you.
Friday, March 23 | 6:30 pm
Talisman or Granite Movie Poster? The Ten Commandments in America
These days, the Ten Commandments are just about everywhere. One of the most richly imagined and frequently invoked of biblical symbols, they can be found at the mall and in restaurants, in courthouses and the public square. What does their presence tell us about modern America? About faith? Or freedom?
Saturday, March 24 | 11:45 am
Lunch & Learn: The Politics of Stained Glass
Many years ago, the unveiling of a brand new stained glass window in a newly-constructed synagogue in New York threatened to split the community in two. Was it the shape and position of the window that caused dissension? Its subject matter? Or perhaps its medium? To get at what happened—and why—we’ll try our hand at interpreting historical records, all with an eye towards understanding the often vexed relationship between religion and aesthetics.
The Lunch & Learn is $12.00 per person. You must RSVP ONLINE or call Dollie Closna at (210) 733-9135, ext. 126.
Dr. Jenna Weissman Joselit is the Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of History at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she also directs its graduate programs in Jewish cultural arts, the first of this kind in the country.
Dr. Jenna Weissman Joselit’s visit is made possible through the generosity of the Gilbert and Ruth Lang Human Development Fund and Jean and Jesse Wulfe Religious Enhancement Fund.