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‘He Has Something to Say to Us Today’: Museum of Jewish History Set to Honor Legacy of ‘The Great Artist’ Arthur Szyk

Arthur Szyk, self portrait

The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City is celebrating the 130th birthday of  the Polish-Jewish artist Arthur Szyk with a special lecture series hosted by the world’s leading expert on his work.

Titled, “Commemorating Arthur Szyk’s 130th Birthday,” the lecture series will include four 90-minutes sessions led by award winning author Irvin Ungar, a former rabbi who has studied Szyk for over 30 years, publishing three books about him and hosting exhibitions of his art at museums throughout the world. Among art historians, Ungar’s scholarship and curation is credited with single-handedly fostering a “Szyk renaissance.”

Born in 1894 in the city of Łódź during the Russian Partition of Poland, Szyk, though his life ended prematurely in 1951, lived through a violent and epochal moment in history — an age of revolution, world war, and genocide. His works, from sketches of the Boxer Rebellion he drew at the age of six to his depiction of Hitler as Pharaoh — and later, Hitler as Anti-Christ — were expressive commentaries on troubled times.

After Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Szyk fled to England and then America, where he earned a reputation as a “soldier in art” for portraying the Nazis and Axis leaders as primal mad men and using irradiating imagery to alert the world to the plight of the Jewish people under Nazi occupation, an issue that affected him personally. In 1940, his mother, Eugenia, was murdered in the Chełmno extermination camp, just 30 miles from the city in which he grew up. Many more relatives, as well as those of his wife, were murdered during the Holocaust.

Arthur Szyk, Anti-Christ, 1942

Szyk’s contemporaries widely acclaimed his work, both for its creativity and social consciousness. In 1949, he published “Do Not Forgive Them, O Lord, For They Do Know What They Do!,” an anti-racist drawing condemning the bigotry that Black soldiers who fought fascism abroad faced in the segregated American south. In the piece, a soldier is on his knees and bound by rope while two hooded Klansmen holding shotguns watch him from a distance. His humanism once prompted allegations that he was a member of the Communist Party, charges which were entirely unfounded.

Today, Szyk is best known in the Jewish world for what is regarded as his magnum opus, The Haggadah, an “illuminated manuscript” which tells the story of Passover Seder in a series of watercolor illustrations. It was thoroughly anti-Nazi, linking the oppression of Jews in Nazi Germany with the enslavement of Jews in Egypt and, ultimately, their Exodus.

There is much more to learn about Szyk, Irvin Ungar told The Algemeiner on Thursday during a phone interview, including his tireless advocacy on behalf of the Zionist movement and the establishment of the State of Israel, as well as his “prolific” production of illustrations for modern editions of classic books such as Canterbury Tales and Anderson’s Fairy Tales.

“My job has been how to bring all these various aspects and dimensions of Arthur Szyk together and to present an unbelievably talented and creative artists who excelled in book illustration, religious art, and political art,” Ungar said. “He was excellent in all three. It’s very rare to find any artist who can excel in all three areas with the great degree of skill and craftsmanship which he did.”

Szyk, an “artist of and for the Jewish people and for the world,” transcended his time, Ungar added, and continues to speak to ours. Rising antisemitism, illiberalism on the far-right and far-left, and great power conflict were the major themes of his art and make him an invaluable resource for comprehending a world in peril.

“He has something to say to us today,” Ungar emphasized. “He had something to say about United Nations in 1947 and 1948. It applies today. He had something to say about antisemitism being the great softener of his democracy at that time, and that would also apply to our day. You can find numerous of his artwork and think ‘That was created for today,’ and that in my mind is why his artwork is eternal.”

Commemorating Arthur Szyk’s 130th Birthday, begins on Monday, February 26, at 7 PM. Ungar will give two more lectures in March before concluding the series on April 8 with an exploration of The Haggadah.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post ‘He Has Something to Say to Us Today’: Museum of Jewish History Set to Honor Legacy of ‘The Great Artist’ Arthur Szyk first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips

After a weekend overnight shutdown of Israeli airspace, during which time Iranian missiles and drones attacked the country, Canadians ware cautiously optimistic that travel to and from Ben Gurion Airport will resume regular schedules later this week. Air Canada cancelled departures from Toronto on Saturday and from Tel Aviv on Monday—the latter despite the airport […]

The post Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

The post Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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