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The Chagall Windows

Eliana, Nick, and I went to see the Chagall Windows in the Synagogue at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Marc Chagall was born in the Russian Empire in 1887. He was 97 years old at his death in 1985. He is considered a “Jewish artist” because he incorporated Jewish images and stories into his art. Therefore, it is no stretch that he was the artist that created the stain glass windows in the synagogue.
Chagall created the stained glass windws for the synagogue in 1962. It took him two years to complete them. Before being permanently installed in the synagogue they travelled throughout the world, including being displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
There are twelve windows, a window for each tribe of Israel. Each window also tells a different story from the Old Testament focusing on the blessing Jacob bestowed on each of his twelve sons as well as the blessing Moses placed on the twelve tribes. Each window is also dominated by a single color used to tell the story being told by each window.
The first thing that I noticed about the windows was that they were not illuminated by natural light. When you are approaching the synagogue from the outside, the windows look dark. While they are still beautiful, I was disappointed that the windows were artifically lit. I had always thought that part of the beauty of stained glass was the glass being illuminated by natural light. On the other hand, the fact that these windows were artifically lit and still beautiful showed that natural light is not required when dealing with stained glass. After a little bit of googling, I found that when the windows were unveiled, the use of artificial light instead of natural lights was a point of contesion and Chagall as criticized by many for it.


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