Judaica is Dying
Jenna Weissman Joselit’s recent column in The Forward “Why The Status of Judaica is Waning” wonders whether Judaica is now passé given that museums are turning away collections of intricately decorated menorahs and Kiddush cups, and invites readers to “re-engage with Judaica, if not on its own terms then as pieces of our past.” I would propose a third option: let’s also broaden our understanding of what Judaica is, who it is for, and where it is found.
Our ritual objects are not just pieces of the past, or merely Judaica. They serve as the foundation of culture and tradition, and a reminder of how Jews joined cultural conversations throughout history. As Joselit explains, Judaica’s early roots came from the need to prove to the world that Jews could also make intricate and technically complicated works of art. Today’s Jewish artists don’t need to prove their basic worth, and so have space to widen the conversation and create work that interprets Jewish ritual objects in fresh and surprising ways.
The world of Judaica is facing the same questions the broader Jewish community is wrestling with: how do we stay relevant in a world where people have many options for how to engage with ritual and religion, and are actively choosing whether Judaism will play a meaningful part in their lives?
See the rest of this piece on the Mayyim Hayyim blog.