The Arty Semite

See the Arch of Titus, Now in Color

By Blair Thornburgh

We can never know for certain what ancient Jews and Romans saw when they passed under the Arch of Titus, but thanks to technology and a team of scholars, we now have an inkling.

Wikimedia Commons

The arch, dedicated in 81 C.E., celebrates the destruction of Jerusalem by the Emperor Titus and features an iconic bas-relief carving of a menorah on one side. Using a high-resolution digital scans and a process called ultraviolet-visual spectrometry, researchers sponsored by the Yeshiva University Center of Israel Studies and the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma discovered earlier this month that the stone surface of the menorah was once painted a yellow-ochre color, the New York Times reports.

It’s an exciting discovery, and one that’s potentially surprising. That’s because looking at ancient works of art isn’t straightforward. Even when spared man-made damage and cared for by preservationists, objects inevitably decay: stone chips, textiles unravel, paint fades. Compared with their brightly decorated and cloth-draped original splendor, the colorless surfaces of Roman sculpture we see today literally pale in comparison.

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Buffalo’s Oldest Synagogue May Be Destroyed

By Samuel D. Gruber

Crossposted from Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments

David Torke

The former Ahavath Sholom Synagogue at 407 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y., built in 1903, is threatened with demolition. The building is one of the last standing synagogue of the “facade-dome” type that was popular at the end of the 19th century.

Jewish use of the building ended in the 1960s, and it became home to the Greater New Hope Church of God in Christ. The structure is now empty and in disrepair. Time may not be long for the building, but local efforts to save it may yet stave off the wrecking ball.

According to the blog fixBuffalo:

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Film Premiere With Free Piano Lessons

By Ariel Zilber

Crossposted from Haaretz

As Tel Avivians hurried home to beat the rush-hour traffic after another start to the workweek, dozens of passersby along the busy intersection between Carlebach and Ha’arbaa Streets were drawn to the plaza facing the Cinematheque, the site of a not-so-ordinary film preview.

Rafi Deloya
Actor Sasson Gabbay at the preview of ‘Restoration,’ at the Tel Aviv Cinemateque.

Seven pianos were scattered throughout the bustling Tel Aviv plaza, where people were treated to free, 10-minute lessons by teachers carefully selected by Melnik Pianos, one of the city’s oldest distributors and importers of pianos.

The event, which mimicked a similar venture in New York earlier this year, was held to mark the premier of “Restoration,” a film starring Sasson Gabbai and Henry David. Set in early 20th-century Tel Aviv, the plot revolves around one family’s effort to save its furniture restoration business by trying to piece together the remains of a highly valued piano that was found by chance.

Read more at Haaretz.com

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This Week in Forward Arts and Culture

By Ezra Glinter

  • Gabrielle Birkner watches Yossi Madmoni’s “Restoration,” the only Israeli selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • Pianist András Schiff talks to the Forward about growing anti-Semitism in his native Hungary.

  • Gordon Haber reflects on integration and re-segregation in his native Los Angeles.

  • Eileen Reynolds goes to see Yoav Gal’s biblically inspired space-age video opera “Mosheh.”

  • David Biale reads through the new crop of second-generation Holocaust memoirs.

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Out and About: Israeli Winners at Sundance; Ian McEwan Defends Jerusalem Prize Acceptance

By Ezra Glinter

Israeli filmmaker Talya Lavie, whose ‘Zero Motivation’ won the Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award at the Sundance Film Festival.
  • Two Israeli films, “Restoration” by Yossi Madmony and “Zero Motivation” by Talya Lavie, picked up prizes at Sundance.

  • The Egyptian Museum was hit by looters, but it could have been worse.

  • Israeli filmmakers have received death threats over their film on the Gaza war.

  • Ian McEwan has defended his decision to accept the Jerusalem Prize, telling his critics, “I’m for finding out for myself, and for dialogue, engagement, and looking of ways in which literature, especially fiction, with its impulse to enter other minds, can reach across political divides.”

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