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Shahar Marnin-Distelfeld

Abstract

This article examines images of wild flowers in Israeli visual culture from the period of pre-state Israel until the present day. These images have served as “cultural objects” that have helped construct a national identity. They have appeared in Hebrew publications, stamps, banknotes, and artworks. Arguing that the choice of botanical art is a political statement, this article shows the complex attitudes embodied in contemporary wild flower images—both thematic and stylistic—in which the artists negotiate their multifaceted relationship with the Land of Israel as a troubled territory. The images created by Israeli-Jewish artists share a twofold significance: they stand as naïve memories of Israel’s early years and, at the same time, they embody the reality of conflict implied in the idea of sharing the Land with the Israeli Arabs. The methodology of this article is interdisciplinary, as it integrates an analysis of visual images with the use of interviews and the explication of texts.

Joshua Schwartz

Abstract

Everyone plays and that, of course, includes children. In an ideal world, there would be literary traditions, archaeological remains and artistic renditions, which would enable the reconstruction of toys. Unfortunately, the situation does not exist for ancient Jewish society. For the most part, there are depictions in rabbinic literature and it is those toy traditions which I examine.

The study begins with those toys explicitly connected to halakhic issues, firstly with those traditions in which the toy is essential to the law and afterwards to those in which the toy is tangential to the law. The study then deals with those toys mentioned in a nonlegal rabbinic framework. Finally, I discuss toys that were popular in the Greco-Roman world but not mentioned in rabbinic literature. I seek to determine whether descriptions of toys in rabbinic literature and set within the broader Greco-Roman world are sufficient for visualization.

“A Fall of Snow Maintains the Warmth of the Earth”

Léon Brunschvicg in the Eyes of Emmanuel Levinas and the Search for Universalism in Judaism

Hanoch Ben-Pazi

Abstract

This essay attempts to shed light upon the European Jewish partnership in the second half of the twentieth century, through an analysis of the persona of the philosopher Léon Brunschvicg, one of the major teachers of Emmanuel Levinas. Beyond the inherent interest in his intellectual stature and prominence as a philosopher, our study will reveal an additional aspect of the French-Jewish partnership at the turn of the century, and will reconsider the import of assimilation—as an enabler of Jewish involvement in Western civilization. The moral and intellectual appreciation that Emmanuel Levinas had for his teacher, Léon Brunschvicg, motivated him to call for a return to Jewish cultural discourse, and to honor the role models whose Judaism found expression not through their national or religious commitments, but rather through their universal concerns.