Tag Archives: Art

Jews of the Week: Rabbi Zlotowitz and Rabbi Scherman

The ArtScroll Revolution 

Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz

Meir Yakov Zlotowitz (1943-2017) was born in New York to Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland. He showed an affinity for art from a young age, and after graduating from yeshiva (and receiving his rabbinic ordination), he co-founded ArtScroll Studios. Originally, the company produced artfully-decorated pamphlets, posters, ketubot, and scrolls. In 1975, a close friend of Rabbi Zlotowitz passed away shortly before Purim. The rabbi decided to honour his friend by composing a new translation and commentary on Megillat Esther within the shloshim, the first 30-day period of mourning. Rabbi Zlotowitz worked day and night for 30 days, barely eating or sleeping at all. When he was done, he produced a beautifully-designed and intellectually in-depth edition of the Book of Esther. It was an instant hit, and quickly sold 20,000 copies. The success of the publication made Rabbi Zlotowitz realize he could do the same for other Jewish holy texts. He went in search of a partner who could work with him, and found the perfect person:

Rabbi Nosson Scherman

Nosson Scherman (b. 1935) was born in New Jersey to a traditional family and originally attended public school. He went to a Jewish after-school program and was inspired to go to yeshiva several years later. Scherman became a rabbi, first worked as a school teacher, and then became principal of Yeshiva Karlin Stolin. He wrote the introduction to Rabbi Zlotowitz’s Megillat Esther, then joined him full time at ArtScroll. The partners had little money and set up the Mesorah Heritage Foundation to help finance their work. Under their leadership and wisdom, ArtScroll has produced over 700 titles and some 2000 volumes, including possibly the world’s most popular Chumash, and the entire Talmud (a whopping 73-tome set). This Talmud was the product of over 70 scholars working together from all over the world, and for many it is the go-to version of Talmud today. It has allowed thousands of regular people to learn and love the Talmud, in clear English and with insightful commentaries. ArtScroll has been credited with revolutionizing Jewish study, and with helping to facilitate the massive baal teshuva movement in recent decades, inspiring the return of countless Jews to their faith and traditions. Despite being in his 80s, Scherman continues to helm ArtScroll, producing ever more beautiful and enlightening Jewish books.

Purim Begins Tonight! Chag Sameach!

15 Purim Facts Every Jew Should Know

Words of the Week

It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.
– Gertrude Elion

Jew of the Week: Saul Bass

Saul Bass

Saul Bass (1920-1996) was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Blessed with a talent for art, he made his way to Hollywood as a young man and worked in film advertising. In 1954 he designed his first poster for a major motion picture. Impressed by its ingenuity, the filmmaker asked Bass to put together the opening credits sequence as well. Bass realized he can make the opening and closing credits more than just boring scrawls of peoples’ names. And so, Bass single-handedly invented creative film title sequences that are now standard with all movies. His elaborate and creative sequences quickly became hugely popular. Over a 40-year career, he designed the opening sequences and movie posters for countless blockbusters. Bass also produced short films of his own, one of which won an Oscar (and two more were nominated), as well as a full length science-fiction movie. He served as a director and cameraman, too, most famously for the “shower-murder” scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Aside from film-making, Bass designed the logos for dozens of big companies, including AT&T and Quaker. All in all, Bass is considered to be one of the greatest graphic designers of all time, and a major force in the development of film. Of his work, he said: “Design is thinking made visible.” Today’s ‘Google Doodle’ is a tribute to Saul Bass, in honour of his birthday.

 

Words of the Week

This is the meaning of “Love your fellow as yourself”: Just like you are blind to your own failings, since your self-love covers them up, so, too, should your fellow’s failings be swallowed up and concealed by your love for him.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866)