Art of the Polish Synagogues

Lions Unicorns and Fiery Dragons:
The Art of the Polish Synagogues

Prof. Marc Michael Epstein

March 8, 2019, 12:15 -1:15 PM
Samueli Jewish Campus (1 Federation Way, Irvine, CA 92603)

$18.00 per person (if register prior to March 6, 2019)
FREE for CSP Members, Lithuania/Poland trip participants
and educators who register early
$36.00 at the door

A carpet, a forest, a lush landscape of flora and fauna-the stunningly gorgeous but now destroyed painted wooden synagogues of Poland the images that often seem strange to our eyes. Yet they yield up their mystery as CSP favorite Marc Michael Epstein guides us through their symbolism and theological meaning. Much thanks to Toni and Terry McDonald for helping to underwrite Marc’s presentation!

Winner of the 2015 Jewish Book Award in Visual Arts for “Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts,” Marc Michael Epstein is the product of a mixed marriage between the scions of Slonimer and Lubavitcher Hassidim and Romanian socialists, and grew up, rather confused, but happy, in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently Professor of Religion at Vassar College, where he has been teaching since 1992, and was the first Director of Jewish Studies.

At Vassar, he teaches courses on medieval Christianity, religion, arts and politics, and Jewish texts and sources. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, received the PhD at Yale University, and did much of his graduate research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has written numerous articles and three books on various topics in visual and material culture produced by, for, and about Jews. His prior book, The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative, and Religious Imagination (Yale, 2011) was selected by the London Times Literary Supplement as one of the best books of 2011.

During the ’80s, Epstein was Director of the Hebrew Books and Manuscripts division of Sotheby’s Judaica department, and continues to serve as consultant to various libraries, auction houses, museums and private collectors throughout the world. Among them are the Herbert C. and Eileen Bernard Museum at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, for which he curated the inaugural exhibition, and currently serves as consultant for the Fowler Museum at UCLA, where he is in the process of helping plan a major exhibition on aspects of Kabbalah and its relationship to visual culture.