CURATED BY THE HELLER MUSEUM AT HEBREW UNION COLLEGE – JEWISH INSTITUTE OF RELIGION
Human beings have a longstanding tendency to get creative when encountering confounding experiences. We write songs and stories, imagine fantastic beings, and make protective rituals, amulets and potions. From its first appearance on the spiritual scene, Judaism has been infused with magical creatures, prophetic dreams, and both wondrous and terrifying miracles. Torah attributes most of these paranormal elements to The Divine –suggesting that even incomprehensible, frightening or unprecedented occurrences may feel menacing, but they are ultimately under Divine providence.
ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
This exhibit is on view September 5 – January 7, 2024.
This collection brings together over 20 contemporary artists to reveal the history, scope and importance of magical thinking in Judaism. Here they employ their creativity to explore protective amulets and good luck charms, black cats and mirrors, demons and angels. Their work delights, provokes and illuminates these traditions. This traveling exhibition from the Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College includes works in oil, watercolors, acrylics, collage, paper cuts, photography and mixed media. The collection skillfully intertwines the ancient with the modern, presenting age-old beliefs and practices through the lens of contemporary art. The exhibit sparks a sense of wonder and invites viewers to connect with the rich tapestry of Jewish heritage.
Among the enchanting symbols explored, the Hamsa, with its centuries-old significance as a protective talisman, takes center stage. Through the artists’ interpretations, the Hamsa comes alive in striking new forms, serving as a powerful emblem of hope and safeguarding, bridging the gap between past and present beliefs. A captivating display of ritual objects, from mezuzot to menorahs, featuring the Hamsa design are contributed by The Magnes Collection.
Thanks you to our generous funders and partners:
Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley
Debra and Barry Cohn