Through some 300 exceptional works of art, the groundbreaking presentation will reveal the artistic and cultural adaptations and innovations that resulted during the initial centuries of contact between these two worlds.
The exhibition features a major catalog entry titled, “Jews and Judaism between Byzantium and Islam,” written by Dr. Steven Fine, director of Yeshiva University’s Center for Israel Studies. Fine was instrumental in the choosing and interpreting the artifacts that illustrate the Jewish experience at this important crossroads. He will present the artifacts at a lecture titled, “Jews and Samaritans in an Age of Transition” on March 18.
“This exhibition illustrates a time when our ancestors preserved their Torah lifestyle while embracing the new—living in a world that had been utterly transformed around them and transforming to meet the challenge,” said Fine. “Not only did they move from being Aramaic and Greek speakers to Arabic speakers, but for the first time manuscripts of chazal were written down. New ways of writing Biblical commentary developed as Jews began to think and write in ways similar to Moslem and Christian academics of their time.”
The Center for Israel Studies will also co-sponsor “Perspectives on Byzantium and Islam,” an international conference featuring noted scholars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday, March 20.
“The invitation to be involved in this exhibition from the conceptualization period to the present is very gratifying to me,” said Fine. “Our philosophy of Torah U’madda has infused our participation in Byzantium and Islam, where we have focused on issues that are both globally significant and show the academic rigor and expertise in Judaic studies for which YU is famous.”
Fine was assisted on the project by Yitzchak Schwartz, research associate and coordinator at the Center for Israel Studies. Schwartz, a senior at Yeshiva College, spent the last year interning at the Met.
Learn more about the exhibition and upcoming events at The Center for Israel Studies Web site, yu.edu/cis/news-events/