Today on Tablet
Angels in the altars
Today on Tablet, Elin Schoen Brockman writes on the age-old Jewish interest in angels, tracing it back thousands of years.
But despite the fact that we often associate angels exclusively with Christian iconography, angels have long been a part of Jewish culture, as well, as can be seen in “Divine Messengers,” an exhibition currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. On the blue walls of a downstairs gallery, several of Gustave Doré’s matinee idol angels, two winged dandies from Peru (one armed with an arquebus), and a coterie of baroque cherubs—decidedly Christian images—are joined not only by Islamic and Hindu angels, but by angel-embellished ketubot from Italy and Morocco, contemporary Israeli paintings of angels, and Paul Klee’s “Angelus Novus,” which Walter Benjamin owned, cherished, and transformed in his writing into a paradigmatic symbol of existential despair in the face of the Holocaust.
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