Shabbat and the Artist

November 21, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, November 21, 2014.

Shabbat and the Artist

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim (1800-1882) is considered the first Jewish artist who and was wildly popular as a portrait painter in 19th Century Germany. He is the first widely accepted artist to paint scenes of Jewish life in Europe as Jews were increasingly “emancipated” and given legal status in Germany and France, and increasingly in other Western European countries. His painting, “The Return of the Jewish Volunteer from the Wars of Liberation to his Family Still Living According to Old Customs” is one of his great masterpieces and depicts a wounded Jewish soldier just arriving from the Napoleonic Wars to his home. It is the Sabbath, and despite the religious prohibition on traveling on the Sabbath, his family excitedly welcomes him. The scene is filled with the realities of Jewish life in German at the time. The hanging Sabbath lamp hangs over the table. The kiddish cup from the blessing over wine is on the table. The family is religious – the men are wearing skullcaps. The soldier, however, is not wearing one. The Jews of the time were constantly afraid of losing their recently won rights. Oppenheim’s painting is a reminder to all that the Jews of the various German states were loyal citizens who supported the state – even fighting in their wars against Napoleon.

For more information about this painting, click here 

Shabbat Shalom