Speaking Without Words: Why Judaica Art Says So Much About The Religion

Religious art has been integral to so many cultures over the last few centuries. Whether it’s Christianity, Hinduism or Judaism, art can give the viewer an alternative take on a history that has long since been told. It doesn’t matter how familiar you might be with a religion’s scriptures or history, an artistic portrayal of a specific moment can give something that would otherwise have been missed.

A religious painting can ignite a passion and emotion in the viewer. Looking at Judaica art specifically, there are so many examples of an artist taking a piece of their history and implementing it into their craft to invoke this emotional reaction.

So why does Judaica art say so much about the religion? For starters, it entirely depends on the artist themselves.

Artists Tell Stories In Different Ways

Art does not necessarily have to be communicated upon a canvas. When it comes to Judaica art, there are so many examples of the history being told in different ways, through mezuzah cases, jewellery or ornaments. Companies like Nadavart Judaica made Israel continue to celebrate the work of artisans who have inherited knowledge and skill from generations of expert craftsmen

Whether it’s intricately designed Passover plates or silver memorial candle holders, these objects reveal a snapshot of Jewish history in a powerful way. They are created to be used and interacted with in the everyday home, meaning they allow the user to connect with the religion even when they are not actively worshipping.

Artists Give Altering Spins On One Religion

The importance of visual media cannot be understated when it comes to portraying and communicating a message. For those who are new to Judaica, it is far easier to feel the atmosphere and hear the message of the scripture through a colourful painting, rather than lines of words in black and white. Whilst, of course, the scripture is important in teaching the history and morals of the religion, a newcomer can be struck by a piece of art depicting those same scenes.

This is especially true when artists offer different spins on a single passage. The parting of the red sea, for instance, has plenty of varying depictions. This is important, as it asks the viewer to engage with what they are seeing and form their own opinion on how the passage truly played out. It invokes fascination, and with that fascination comes an imagination.

They Are An Accompaniment To The Religion

Lastly, the most important thing about Judaica art is that it works as an accompaniment to the religion itself.  A visual aid can be incredibly important to expand upon the messages and morals of the Jewish history, which is part of the reason why you will find art and stained glass windows within synagogues.

Whilst every artist will work from their own ideas and conceptions of the history, a single person’s interpretation can speak a thousand words to many followers of the religion. This will then help them piece together the history in their head, visualising the story of their ancestors and feeling closer to them as a result.

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About the author

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Houke de Kwant is a frontend developer from the Netherlands and the creator of TheArtHunters (former Daily Inspiration, which was started as part of his study).

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