In the upcoming academic year, the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies will focus on the theme of “Jewish Visual Cultures.” Under the leadership of co-head fellows Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan, and Richard I. Cohen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, twelve scholars will explore various aspects of Jewish visual imagination.

Studies of visual imagination in Jewish life have exploded in recent years. From the growth of Jewish museums throughout the USA and Europe to the founding of new journals devoted to Jewish art, Jewish visual culture has engaged broad audiences.  Scholarly and popular studies, exhibitions and films, have enlightened us on a range of themes in various periods, from the medieval past to the present day. In diverse formats, they depict the way Jews and Jewish culture and religion were seen, extending our understanding of the intricate relations between Jews and others. These portrayals have added important dimensions to the imagination of Jewish life as a minority throughout history and recently as a majority.


The Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies will devote the 2023-2024 year to an exploration of many facets of Jewish visual imagination. How have Jewish experiences with and attitudes toward the visual intersected with those of the majority populations, and with minority populations in Israel? How has Jewish visuality challenged or coexisted with the hallmark of Jewish culture – the literary text? How does visual culture broaden the Jewish narrative? The Frankel Institute theme year will address these and other questions. It will also investigate the significant place that visual culture has occupied in Jewish historical development, considering monuments, manuscripts, synagogue architecture, ephemera, ceremonial art (Judaica), printed books, drawings, and fashion items. The Institute will bring these historical questions into dialogue with research on 20th and 21st century contemporary art, photography, architecture, and exhibition practices.


The 2023-2024 Frankel fellows and their fields of research are:

Jeffrey Abt, Wayne State University, “The Indigeneity of Heterogeneity: An Exploration of Visual Languages in the History of Judaica”

Inka Bertz, Jewish Museum Berlin, “The Entrance of Jews into the Artistic Professions”

Zoya Brumberg-Kraus, University of Texas – Austin, “From Gold Mountain to Tinseltown: Ethnic Identity in California’s Architectural Vernacular”

Irit Carmon Popper, Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Haifa University, “Past Imperfect: Contemporary Art Versus Heritage in Historic Sites in Israel - A New Comparative Framework”

Richard I. Cohen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Revisiting Jewish Icons in Modern Culture and History”

Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, “Camera as Passport”

Débora Kantor, University of Buenos Aires, “Israel in Jewish Diaspora Non-Fiction Film”

Louis Kaplan, University of Toronto, “Jewish Photographic Humor in Dark Times: Reflections on Visual First Responders to the Third Reich”

Tamar Kay, SCE School of Architecture, Israel, “3938 Chene St.: Research for the Basis of Writing a TV Series Bible”

Vladimir Levin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Muskeljudentum and Lachrymose Prayer: How Jewish Historians Constructed Fortress Synagogues”

Adam Lowenstein, University of Pittsburgh, “The Jewish Horror Film: Taboo and Redemption”

Julia Phillips Cohen, Vanderbilt University, “Tastemakers: How a Forgotten Group of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa Shaped Modern European Culture”

Catherine Soussloff, University of British Columbia and University of California – Santa Cruz, “Shadows of Diaspora: Material Culture at the Crossroads of Islamic Art and Jewish History”

Roni Tzoreff, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “Israeli Art in the Age of 'Multiculturalism': The Exhibitions for Israel’s 50th Independence Day”