New York, NY, December 8, 2023—The Jewish Museum plans to expand its programming as a resource for engagement and education in these challenging times. The Museum will be launching a series of initiatives around the conflict in the Middle East, providing a forum for dialogue and reflection on the role of art and culture during these complex times. These initiatives include public programs, art installations, and staff sessions, reinforcing the Museum’s mission to share ideas and promote understanding.
Public programs will feature James S. Snyder, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, in conversation with artists, authors, and other cultural leaders and thinkers. Guest speakers will share a range of social and cultural perspectives, drawing upon their own experiences as well as addressing broader themes and questions.
James S. Snyder began his tenure as the Jewish Museum’s Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director in November 2023, after serving since 2019 as Executive Chair of The Jerusalem Foundation, Inc. He is also Director Emeritus of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, where he served as the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director from 1997 through 2016 and then as International President through 2018. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Middle East Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School. During his tenure as Director of the Israel Museum, Snyder led the Museum through the most dramatic period of growth since its founding and secured its stature as one of the world’s foremost museums. Prior to his appointment at the Israel Museum, Snyder held a number of positions at The Museum of Modern Art culminating as Deputy Director from 1986 to 1996. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Snyder is a graduate of Harvard University and a Loeb Fellow of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and he holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hebrew Union College.
Award-winning author Ruby Namdar will be the first guest speaker in conversation with James Snyder. The program will take place on Monday, February 5, 2024, at 6:30 pm in the Museum’s Scheuer Auditorium. Namdar was born and raised in Jerusalem to a family of Iranian-Jewish heritage. His first book, Haviv (2000), won the Ministry of Culture's Award for Best First Publication. His novel The Ruined House won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award. Namdar currently lives in New York City and teaches Jewish literature, focusing on Biblical and Talmudic narratives. Future speakers will include artists Zoya Cherkassky and Michal Rovner, both of whom are represented in the Museum’s collection, among others. Further details on these and other talks will be forthcoming.
A selection of drawings by artist Zoya Cherkassky will be the first in a series of art installations presenting ways in which artists respond to conflict and war from both contemporary and historical perspectives. Cherkassky’s new body of work, 7 October 2023, takes as its point of departure the harrowing events of that day in Israel, using a graphic visual style to depict the terror attacks at the Nova Music Festival and the seizure of hostages. The Soviet-born Israeli artist, who is widely recognized, has shown internationally at institutions including The Tel Aviv Museum of Art; the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, which presented a mid-career survey of her work in 2018. The installation will be on view December 15, 2023, through March 18, 2024.
The Jewish Museum’s goal for each of these programs is to underscore its role as a place for learning and ongoing engagement and for grappling with the complexities of these times through a cultural lens.