Passion and Jewish Consideratons

by Ed Kessler

Jesus as a Jew

One of the certain facts about Jesus was that he was a Jew. He was a child of Jewish parents, brought up in a Jewish home and reared among Jewish traditions. Throughout his life, Jesus lived among Jews and his followers were Jews.

No other Jew in history has rivalled Jesus in the magnitude of his influence. The words and deeds of Jesus the Jew have been, and are, an inspiration to countless millions of men and women. Strange, is it not, that Jews have given little attention to the life and teaching of this outstanding Jew? Yet, this is true because the Christian followers of Jesus came to cherish beliefs about his life that no Jew could hold.

When the Church persecuted Jews in an effort to convert them, Jewish indifference to Jesus turned to hostility. It is a sad fact of history that the followers of this great Jew have brought much suffering upon the Jewish people, so that for centuries it was very hard for any Jew even to think of Jesus without difficulty. Up until recently, most Jews have chosen not to think of him at all.

Now we are witnessing a significant change and although Jewish indifference to Jesus has not by any means disappeared, the signs are encouraging.

Jesus and his family would have been observant of Torah, paid tithes, kept the Sabbath, circumcised their males, attended synagogue, observed purity laws in relation to childbirth and menstruation, kept the dietary code - one could go on. While the Gospels record disputes about Jesus' interpretation of a few of these, the notion of a Christian Jesus, who did not live by Torah or only by its ethical values, does not fit historical reality.

There is no official Jewish view of Jesus but in one respect Jews are agreed in their attitude towards Jesus. Jews reject the tremendous claim, which is made for Jesus by his Christian followers - that Jesus is the Lord Christ, God Incarnate, the very Son of God the Father. On that belief, Jews and Christians must continue to respectfully differ. Jews believe that all share the divine spirit and are stamped with the divine image and no person - not even the greatest of all people - can possess the perfection of God. No one can be God's equal.

Jesus lived his life not as a Christian but as a Jew, obedient (with very few exceptions) to Torah. Yet within a few years after his death, the Jewish followers of Jesus espoused a rather different kind of religion from that followed by most Jews. Judaism, like Islam after it, is strongly rooted in religious law; Christianity ceased to be so. Judaism, also like Islam, has a strong belief in the unity of God; Christianity came to place such great store in Jesus and subsequently in the doctrine of the Trinity that it has seemed to many other monotheists to be, in essence, a refined form of polytheism. Gradually, Christian religion came to look less like an authentic, even if eccentric, form of Judaism, and more like a completely different religion.

During the Second Temple period, there were many internal arguments about what it meant to be Jewish. Did religious law permit one to acquiesce in Roman occupation, or to fight it? How did the law reconcile justice and mercy? These must have been common debates, which one can see mirrored in the gospels' accounts of Jesus' disputes with contemporary religious leaders.

We cannot be certain of Jesus' views, for the gospels are a highly interpretative genre of literature, coloured by their contributors' and editors' reflections on events that had happened 40 and more years before, in the light of the momentous events that had occurred in the intervening years. Even so, his attitude towards dietary laws recorded in Mark's gospel shows little interest in the minutiae of what they require that Jews eat and drink. This unusual interpretation eventually became common for Christians: certainly the food laws gradually became a thing of the past, as accounts in Acts and the Pauline letters illustrate. Moreover, although Jesus' message of the kingdom of God was clearly within mainstream Jewish tradition, the Christological references about him and his meaning are less so.

The belief that Jesus was God is an impossibility for Jewish thought. But not so the belief that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. Several Jews have in the course of 2000 years, claimed to be the Messiah - sent by God to inaugurate God's kingdom on earth. Simon Bar Kochba in 132 CE and Shabbetai Zvi in 1665 CE are two examples among many. But the association of Messiah with terms like Son of Man and Son of God, which developed a profusion of meanings, soon led to exalted claims for Jesus that few Jews felt able to follow. Even within the New Testament this is so; by the time of the full-blown Trinitarianism of the 4th century creeds this gap was unbridgeably wide.

Jesus was put to death by the Romans on the charge that he claimed to be the Messiah. Jesus made it clear to Peter that he regarded himself as the Messiah (Mark 8:29) as he did to the High Priest (Mark 14:62). Some Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah, believing that he would redeem them from the bitter yoke of Rome and bring the messianic age. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem he was acclaimed, "blessed is the Kingdom that comes, the kingdom of our father David" (Mark 11:10). Other Jews rejected the claim.

The charge against Jesus on the cross and his mockery as 'King of the Jews', his execution between two villains, the appearance of the royal messianic motifs - these all suggest that Pilate faced a man charged with sedition. Jesus was not crucified because he denied his Jewishness, abandoned the Scriptures, or disowned his people. He remained a Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jew from Galilee and was executed for political rather than religious reasons.

To claim to be the Messiah, if it was an offence against Judaism at all, was certainly not (as the Gospels contend) an offence against Jewish law for which Jesus could have been put to death. The Gospels say that Jesus' claim to be the Messiah was blasphemy, but in Jewish law, blasphemy was to curse God using God's sacred name. Jesus did nothing of the sort. For Jews, history has shown that Jesus was not the long-awaited Messiah, for Jews were not delivered from the yoke of Roman bondage and the Golden Age did not come. However, some Jews have suggested that Jesus was following in the footsteps of the biblical prophets (cf. Mark 6:15, Matt 21:11).

"What commandment is the first of all?" he was asked. Jesus answered as any Jew: "the first is: Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31). Every Jew will recognise in Jesus' answer the Shema, a Jewish declaration of faith, which is recited at every Jewish service, day and night. The famous command of Lev. 19:18 is also a fundamental precept of Judaism.

It was in his attitude towards the Torah that Jesus seems to have departed from the Judaism of his time. In their teaching, the rabbis would state, "thus says the Torah." Jesus showed independence by standing above the Torah and speaking as one "having authority". (Mark 1:22) He dared to base his teachings on "I say to you" and it was this daring which brought him into conflict with contemporary Judaism.

It is highly improbable that Jesus told his followers to ignore the Torah; rather, he emphasized that "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21) i.e., follow the deepest instinct for truth and love in your heart for therein, not through Torah, lies salvation. This was a courageous message; one which made some Jews unbounded in their devotion to him and others to regard him as a heretic.

Geza Vermes and Ed Sanders are two scholars who in recent years have drawn wide attention among Christians to Jesus' Jewish origins, though Christians earlier in the 20th century (R. T. Herford, George Foot Moore) had also explored this trend, which has now become widespread and crucial within Jesus studies. At least until the 1970s, it was common for New Testament scholars to portray Jesus as a kind of prototype exponent of idealism. Many betrayed an instinctive antisemitism. They depicted Judaism at the time of Jesus as 'late Judaism' (Spätjudentum), as if Jewish religion had ended with the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, or should have. This position was based on the conviction that post-exilic Judaism had ossified and betrayed the prophetic faith of Israel. It contends that Jesus stands outside such a hardened, legalistic religion, a stranger to it, condemning the scribes and the Pharisees who were the fathers of Rabbinic Judaism and who have thus misled modern Judaism into perpetuating this sterile, legalistic religion.

Jesus was a Jew, not an alien intruder in 1st-century Palestine. Whatever else he was, he was a reformer of Jewish beliefs, not an indiscriminate faultfinder of them. For Jews, the significance of Jesus must be in his life rather than his death, a life of faith in God. For Jews, not Jesus but God alone is Lord. Yet an increasing number of Jews are proud that Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew.

The Passion from a Jewish Perspective

Scholars have spent an impressive amount of energy on the study of the historical Jesus and much of it has revolved around his Jewishness. "Whom do men say that I am?" Jesus once asked his disciples (Matt 16:13). The answers varied which reveals how even then there was little consensus over his identity. A brief glance towards recent scholarship indicates that scholars are still on this elusive trail and are as far as away from consensus as were the disciples. Yet, it can be agreed that Jesus was born a Jew, raised a Jew, taught as a Jew and died a Jew. He was indicted by Pilate as "king of the Jews" and condemned to death as such.

The BBC's The Passion successfully places Jesus the Jew in his Jewish context. His disciples on occasion call him 'rabbi' for he was a Jewish teacher. Jesus and his family would have been observant of Torah, paid tithes, kept the Sabbath, circumcised their males, attended synagogue - and so on. While the Gospels record disputes about Jesus' interpretation of a few of these, the notion of a Christian Jesus, who did not live by the Jewish commandments or only by their ethical values, does not fit historical reality.

The BBC series successfully portrays the many ways to be Jewish in the first century. Josephus, who lived in the first century, mentions four groups: Pharisees; Sadducees; Essenes; and Zealots. With which of the groups did Jesus have dealings? The Gospels never mention the Essenes, although the Dead Sea Scrolls parallel some of the teachings of John the Baptist. Some Jews were Zealots and were active from the time of the Maccabees. Josephus accuses them of kidnapping Jews as hostages and killing their own people whom they regarded as traitors. The Zealots are hardly mentioned in the New Testament although Luke includes Simon the Zealot among the twelve disciples.

The Gospels make clear that Jesus' major dealings were with Pharisees and Sadducees and The Passion follows accordingly. The Sadducees are mentioned in the New Testament as having arguments with Jesus (eg., Mark 12:18-27), and as members of the Sanhedrin. The series rightly portrays them as being mainly associated with the Temple, although not all Temple priests were Sadducees.

Jesus' action in the Temple was a key moment in the BBC series as its marked a turning point in the Temple authorities' view of Jesus. All four Gospels record that Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers, and accused the Temple staff of making what should have been a "house of prayer for all nations" into a "den of thieves". The chief priests were concerned to protect an economy built around the Temple. The Passion depicts Jesus as staging a symbolic destruction, because he believed that destruction was to take place after which the Temple would be radically transformed and the kingdom of God would shortly arrive. The authorities, both religious and secular, took note.

One of the most intriguing characters of the series is the High Priest, Caiaphas. The High Priest was appointed by Rome and his duties included performing Temple rituals, managing the Temple treasury, and presiding over the Sanhedrin. In the past, performances of the Passion have often inaccurately portrayed him as Pilate's superior. The BBC's The Passion gives the viewer an indication of what it must have been like for a High Priest who struggled with his conscience in order to protect the limited autonomy given to Jews by the Romans. Caiaphas is portrayed as a sensitive man who knows he is caught been between a rock and a hard place.

The writer, Frank Deasy, carefully followed contemporary New Testament scholarship by depicting Pilate as perceiving that Jesus threatened the peace of Jerusalem. This political situation provides the context for Caiaphas' ironic comment to Pilate, 'It is better for you to have one man die for the people than that the entire nation perish' (John 11:50).

The Jewish group closest to Jesus were the Pharisees and other than the Jewish followers of Jesus, only they survived. After the Temple was destroyed in 70CE, the Pharisees began to reconstruct Jewish faith and so became known as the fathers of Rabbinic Judaism. In the Gospels, the Pharisees are prominent as the main rivals of Jesus and their conflict generally centres on interpretation of the Torah, especially in terms of observing the Sabbath, dietary laws and issues of purity.

Interestingly, many of Jesus' teachings mirror those of the Pharisees. For example, Rabbi Hillel, a famous rabbi who lived a few decades before Jesus, is well known for a saying which echoes the Golden Rule, "do not do unto others what you would not wish to be done to yourself".

I would suggest that Jesus argued so much with the Pharisees because he was closest to them and it is not by chance that they are absent from the Gospel Passion narratives. Indeed, Jesus may even have been a Pharisee.

For his part, Pontius Pilate (governed 26-37 CE) was a despotic and ruthless Roman dictator, who was forced to resign from office. Even early Christian sources, which are keen to portray the early church as non-threatening to Roman authority, contain criticism of Pilate. Luke mentions "the Galileans, whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifice" in the Temple (Luke 13:1-4) and according to the writings of Eusebius (260-339 CE) Pilate committed suicide, which was a fitting fate for him: "Divine justice, it seems, did not long protract his punishment".

Pilate, being the political potentate in Judaea at the time, without whose consent no one would be put to death, has nevertheless been interpreted in Christian tradition as being opposed to the execution of Jesus. However, most scholars understand this as an attempt to present the Christian message as in no way threatening to the Roman authorities, rather than historical reality.

Passion Plays and tackling anti-Jewish bias

Since Passion Plays focus on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, they have sometimes provided an excuse for anti-Judaism.

On occasion, performances of the Passion have led to violence against Jews, especially in the mediaeval period which one Catholic scholar of Christian-Jewish relations, Edward Flannery, described as "the centuries of woe", during which Jews were progressively "demonised" by Christians and portrayed first as in league with Satan in their opposition to Jesus and then as Devils themselves. Passion Plays have contributed towards what has become known as the 'teaching of contempt' of Judaism.

The portrait of Jews as collectively guilty for the death of Jesus was a key factor, scholars agree, in a demonisation process.

The BBC series, however, takes special care to avoid these dangers by portraying Jesus as a Jew, reminding viewers of the Jewish context to his ministry, demonstrated at the end of the series by the chanting of the Jewish prayer of mourning, the Kaddish, at Jesus' death, which is deeply moving and very Jewish.

A particular challenge, however, was presenting the trial narrative. Typically, the most anti-Jewish sections of a passion play are those relating to the trial and death of Jesus and portraits of Jesus' last days are made more complicated by the differences between the four Gospel accounts. For example, Mark, Matthew, and Luke place Jesus' arrest on the night of the Passover. In John it occurs before Passover. In John, Jesus is brought first to Annas, then to Caiaphas, then to Pilate but in Matthew he is brought only to Caiaphas, and then to Pilate, while in Luke no details of a Jewish trial are given at all, and Jesus is brought before Pilate and Herod Antipas.

Such variances indicate the Gospels were written generations after the event and rely on the oral traditions of the earliest Christian communities as their sources. Furthermore, the evangelists were not interested in writing factual, historical accounts of Jesus' last days. They were not historians in the modern sense, but men of faith who were preaching in their communities. It is a mistake to treat passion narratives as a straightforward report of what actually occurred, although that is how they are often viewed - therefore all performances of the Passion never simply retell the story, they reinterpret it.

The outcome of the trial is that Jesus is convicted of blasphemy according to Jewish law, and condemned to death as a political trouble-maker by the Roman authorities. There are many odd aspects to this account. The narrators present the Roman authority, Pilate, as being very uneasy about condemning Jesus, and finding it hard to believe that he is guilty of the crime of subversion, or that he constitutes a threat to the Roman administration. This is a strange feature of the presentation because of Pilate's ruthlessness and oppressive behaviour and presented a difficult literary and theological problem for the authors of the Gospels as well as for the BBC.

For the Romans, one might say it was all a much simpler matter: had there been an offence against public order that was sufficiently serious to warrant taking punitive action and was there a threat to their political authority?

Perhaps it is best to conclude with a question asked of Jesus. "What commandment is the first of all?" Jesus was asked. He answered as any good Jew would have answered: "the first is: Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:28-31). Every Jew will recognise in Jesus' answer the Shema, the Jewish declaration of faith, which is recited at every Jewish service, day and night.

The famous command of Lev. 19:18 is also a fundamental precept of Judaism, demonstrating that wherever, however and whenever the Passion narrative is performed, Jesus is most accurately portrayed not as living his life as a Christian but as a Jew.

BBC ONE ONLINE, articles 1 & 2, accessed 18.6.2013


Alfonso Corona Martínez

Notable docente, teórico y crítico la arquitectura

Autor del libro Ensayo sobre el proyecto, Corona Martínez, arquitecto, docente y crítico de arquitectura, fue un teórico y figura destacada de la disciplina.

Textos estudiados con el maestro en 1986 y 1987
• Norberg-Schulz, Christian. Arquitectura occidental: la historia de la arquitectura occidental como una historia de formas significativas, 1973
• Summerson, John. El lenguaje clásico de la arquitectura (The Classical Language of Architecture), 1963. Se dirige "a todos aquellos que aprecian lo suficiente la arquitectura para empezar a reflexionar sobre ella en lugar de limitarse a su contemplación".
• Loos, Adolf. Ornamento y delito (Ornament und Verbrechen), manifiesto, Viena 1907.
• Collins, Peter. Los ideales de la arquitectura moderna: su evolución, 1750-1950.
• Frampton, Kenneth. Arquitectura moderna: una historia crítica (Modern Architecture: A Critical History), 1980; junto con otros 2 volúmenes especiales de Global Architecture dedicados a la historia de la arquitectura, ambos publicados en Tokio.
• Banham, Reyner. Teoría y diseño en la primera era de la máquina
• Venturi, Robert. Complejidad y contradicción en la arquitectura, 1966. En un intento de desmitificacion de los "sabios" presupuestos de la arquitectura moderna, Venturi contesta una serie de nociones que han guiado a no pocos diseñadores de arquitectura. First published in 1966, and since translated into 16 languages, this remarkable book has become an essential document in architectural literature. As Venturi's "gentle manifesto for a nonstraightforward architecture", Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture expresses in the most compelling and original terms the postmodern rebellion against the purism of modernism. Three hundred and fifty architectural photographs serve as historical comparisons and illuminate the author's ideas on creating and experiencing architecture. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture was the winner of the Classic Book Award at the AIA's Seventh Annual International Architecture Book Awards.
• Jencks, Charles. El lenguaje de la arquitectura posmoderna (The language of post-modern architecture), 1984
• Peterson, Steven Kent. "Espacio y anti-espacio", Ideas en arte y tecnología, Universidad de Belgrano, 1984.
• Kahn, Louis. Orden Es (Order Is), manifiesto, 1960.

Junto con su inseparable colega Libertad Vigo, Alfonso Corona Martínez es un gran exponente de los móviles del proceso de diseño, un erudito en historia de la arquitectura y un agudo observador del "fenómeno lo uno y lo otro".

Cayetana Mercé, Alfonso Corona Martínez, adiós a un crítico, Clarín, 10.7.2013

Alfonso Corona Martínez (1935 - 2013) [...] dedicó su vida a la docencia, la cual ejerció hasta último momento a pesar de la dura enfermedad que lo aquejó en los últimos meses.

Su mirada crítica y sus conocimientos sobre la disciplina lo convirtieron en uno de los más sólidos teóricos de la profesión. Escribía con gran talento y capacidad pedagógica, y sus escritos son generalmente utilizados en las universidades como material de estudio. Lo caracterizaba su sentido del humor, irónico y ácido, que siempre estaba presente en sus conversaciones, y aún cuando enseñaba.

Arquitecto por la Universidad de Buenos Aires y doctor por la Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, formó alumnos y profesores en las universidades de Buenos Aires, Belgrano, La Plata, Mar del Plata, Concepción del Uruguay y Palermo.

Aún cuando el dogmatismo se hizo dominante, mantuvo siempre un espíritu crítico y abierto. Estableció un vínculo académico con numerosas universidades del país y el extranjero, especialmente con la Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul en Brasil.

Investigador, docente y ensayista, autor de innumerables artículos en revistas especializadas -fue colaborador de la revista Summa+ por casi 20 años-, en los años 70 introdujo innovaciones a la enseñanza de la arquitectura, entre ellas la Investigación Proyectual, y desarrolló los estudios tipo morfológicos, ofreciendo una renovada perspectiva sobre la continuidad de procedimientos proyectuales en los siglos XIX y XX.

Publicó numerosos libros, entre ellos, Ensayo sobre el Proyecto (CP67, Buenos Aires, 1990) y The Architectural Project (Texas University Press, 2003).

Alfonso Corona Martínez
Ensayo sobre el proyecto, Buenos Aires: CP67, 1990 y 1991

IAB lamenta morte do arquiteto Alfonso Corona Martinez, Istituto de Arquitetos do Brasil, 10.07.2013

É com pesar que o Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil (IAB) comunica a morte do arquiteto argentino Alfonso Corona Martinez. Ele faleceu na manhã desta quarta-feira, 10 de julho, deixando um grande vazio no campo da reflexão sobre o projeto. Martinez era professor catedrático da Universidade de Belgrano, em Buenos Aires, e foi um dos principais expoentes na área de teoria e crítica da arquitetura na América Latina. Seu livro Ensayo sobre el Proyecto é referência no tema.

• Edson Mahfuz, Alfonso Corona Martinez: um depoimento (entrevista), ArqTexto 4, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 2003, pp. 4-9.

La originalidad de pensamiento y el intercambio de ideas caracterizaron su incesante labor como docente. Un día, recuerdo, habiendo observado las láminas, el proyector y hasta el equipo de audio preparados para la inminente presentación teórica que yo debía llevar a cabo antes de recibirme como arquitecto, Corona Martínez se me acercó y con una sonrisa que hasta Humpty Dumpty podría bien haberle envidiado, me dijo sin que nadie oyese pero demostrando que estaba muy al tanto de aquello que sucedía a su alrededor: "Decíme Akerman, ¿qué es todo este show?"
En la Universidad de Belgrano lo apodabamos "Alfonso el Sabio".

The Architectural Project, ed. Malcolm Quantrill, Texas University Press, 2003
The Architectural Project considers the practice of architectural design as it has developed during the last two centuries. In this challenging interpretation of design education and its effect on design process and products, Argentinean scholar Alfonso Corona-Martinez emphasizes the distinction between an architectural project, created in the architect's mind and materialized as a set of drawings on paper, and the realized three-dimensional building.Corona-Martinez demonstrates how representation plays a substantial role in determining both the notion and the character of architecture, and he traces this relationship from the Renaissance into the Modern era, giving detailed considerations of Functionalism and Typology. His argument clarifies the continuity in the practice of design method through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a continuity that has been obscured by the emphasis on changing goals instead of design procedures.Architectural schooling, he suggests, has had a decisive role in the,transmission of these practices. He concludes that the methods formalized in Beaux Arts teaching are not only still with us but are in good part responsible for the stylistic instability that haunts Modern architecture.The Architectural Project presents subtle considerations that must be mastered if an architect is to properly use typology, the means of representation, and the elements of composition in architecture. Students, teachers, and practitioners alike will benefit from the author's insights.

Professor ALFONSO CORONA-MARTINEZ teaches architectural design and theory at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also conducts postgraduate courses in Brazil, Chile, and the United States. The original Spanish-language edition of this study was first published in Argentina in 1990; this translation provides a completely revised version of the text.

Mariano Akerman, Raíces a distancia, fotografía, Islamabad, 2011

• Martínez, Alfonso Corona. Ensayo sobre el proyecto, Buenos Aires: CP67, 1990, ISBN 9509575291, 9789509575295, p. 83
• ___. The Architectural Project, ed. Malcolm Quantrill, Tejas: Texas University Press, 2003, ISBN 1-58544-186-1, p. 50.
• Akerman, Luis Mariano. "La Sinagoga Hurva en el proyecto de Louis Kahn," Ideas en Arquitectura, ed. Alfonso Corona Martínez, Vol. 1, No. 1, Buenos Aires: Fundación Universidad de Begrano, marzo 1997, ISBN 950-07-0315-7, pp. 6-9, con ilustraciones del editor
• ___. "The Evocative Character of Louis Kahn's Hurva Project," en: The Real and Ideal Jerusalem in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Art, ed. Bianca Kühnel, CFJA, 1997-98, ilus., ISBN, 9653910078, 9789653910072, pp. 246, 248, n. 19
• Fernando E. Díez, Buenos Aires y algunas constantes en las transformaciones urbanas, Fundación Editorial de Belgrano, 1997, ISBN 9505771770, 9789505771776, p. 40,


Kahn con Meltzer

¿El encuentro de dos mundos incompatibles y antagónicos?

Nota. El presente documento es continuación de El Caso Hurva.

"Dos arquitectos llegaron. Uno como Moisés trayendo los Diez Mandamientos, lleno del fuego del desierto. El otro como el Violinista en el Tejado. Y el Violinista venció". —Arquitecta Ada Karmi-Melamed [1]

Los Diez Mandamientos, 1956

El Violinista en el Tejado, 1971

El actor estadounidense Charlton Heston como Moisés en Los Diez Mandamientos, 1956

El Violinista en el Tejado, 1971: "Tradición", con el actor israelí Topol en el papel de Tevye el Lechero

Como Tevye observa: "Un violinista sobre el tejado... suena delirante, ¿no? Pero aquí, en nuestro pueblito, Anatevka, podría decirse que cada uno de nosotros es un violinista sobre el tejado, procurando obtener un simple y agradable sonido... sin quebrarse el cuello. No es fácil. Usted se preguntará, por qué andamos por ahí si es tan peligroso. Bueno, porque Anatevka es nuestro hogar. ¿Y cómo mantenemos nuestro equilibrio? ¡Eso se lo puedo decir con una sola palabra! -¡Tradición!"

Tevye explica que "gracias a nuestras tradiciones, todos sabemos quiénes somos y qué espera Dios de nosotros". Pero, sin tradiciones, la vida se volvería peligrosamente inestable: "sin nuestras tradiciones, nuestras vidas serían tan inestables como ¡[la condición de] un violinista [tocando música] sobre el tejado!"

Significativamente, un aspecto crucial de la obra escrita por Sholem Aleijem en 1894, Tevye der milkhiker, radica precisamente en el conflicto que surge cuando la tradición se topa con la modernización.

Fiel reflejo de la cultura ídishe del este europeo y de su respeto por la vida, Aleijem alguna vez notó que "la vida es un sueño para el sabio, un juego para el tonto, una comedia para el rico, [y] una tragedia para el pobre."

Como figura representativa de la condición judía en la diáspora, el violinista sobre el tejado es muy apropiado.[2] En el remolino de la historia, el pueblo hebreo conoce bien los esfuerzos por destilar armonía a pesar de la precariedad de su condición diaspórica y minoritaria en diferentes países. Ello le exige destreza para mantener el equilibrio así como también un inveterado optimismo.

La obra de Sholem Aleijem es esperanzada y tal punto que "no importa cuán mal van las cosas, hay que seguir viviendo, incluso si eso a uno lo mata."

Así, violinista en el tejado es todo aquél que ama y vive intensamente la vida, procurando obtener una "simple y agradable" melodía aunque existan dificultades y peligros.

Como imagen, el violinista en el tejado es una metáfora, una figura con valor tanto específico como universal.

Manila, Mahatma Ghandi International School, Fiddler on the Roof (El Violinista en el Tejado), diciembre de 2006

Por otra parte, y acaso de más esté el recordarlo, en un mundo hoy mayoritariamente monoteísta, cardinal es la importancia de Moisés con su entrega de Los Diez Mandamientos, cosa que tuvo y tiene, consecuencias de proporciones tan épicas como dramáticas.

Proyecto de Louis I. Kahn, 1967-1974

Kahn, Sinagoga Hurva (no construida), c. 1967-68; corte de la propuesta en su fase 1 (reconstrucción virtual computarizada por Kent Larson, MIT)

Kahn, Estudios para la Sinagoga Hurva, con corte de la propuesta (en su fase) 3

Kahn, modelo para la Sinagoga Hurva, visto frontalmente, fase 1

Planta baja de la Sinagoga Hurva, fase 1 (Ching)

Kahn, Boceto con corte detallado de la Sinagoga Hurva: arca sagrada, pilar y pilón, fase 1

Kahn, modelo para la Sinagoga Hurva en perspectiva, fase 1

Sistema estructural mixto de la Sinagoga Hurva: pilones y pilares, fase 1

Kent Larson (MIT), Corte perspectivado de la Sinagoga Hurva (fase 1)

Larson, Perspectiva computarizada mostrando encuentro ente pilones y pilares (Hurva, fase 1)

Mariano Akerman, Comparación del modelo de Kahn para la Sinagoga Hurva con los pilones del Templo egipcio de Horus en Edfu

Akerman, comparación de la planta de la Sinagoga Hurva con la reconstrucción del Templo de Salomón según Fergusson (1883). Nótense la similitudes distributivas, la presencia de cuatro pilares y de un gran espacio central rodeado por pequeñas capillas. En el Templo de Salomón las 'capillas' eran depósitos y es solo en el proyecto de Kahn se transforman en capillas.

Exposición teutona con los proyectos no construidos de Kahn

Modelo de la Sinagoga Hurva en su fase 1

Corte de la Sinagoga Hurva en su fase 1

Larson, 5 Perspectivas computarizadas de la Sinagoga Hurva en su fase 1

Kahn, Corte de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 3, presentando escala humana

Escala del Altes Museum de Berlín por Schinkel comparada con aquella de la Sinagoga Hurva por Kahn

Ejemplo de arquitectura moderna que genera antiespacio (Peterson) comparado con la vuelta a la tradicional distinción y empleo de elementos de arquitectura y elementos de composición con origen en la École des Beaux-Arts de Paris y retomada en la Sinagoga Hurva por Kahn.

Estructuras centrales con luz cenital concebidas por Kahn para la Sinagoga Hurva en las tres primeras fases de la propuesta (fase 1 a la derecha, fase 3 a la izquierda; Fernando Álvarez Prozorovich, Sinagoga Hurva, Història en Obres, N°5, Barcelona, 2012; también fuente para las 4 imágenes siguientes).

Fase 1. El arca sagrada con la base de los cuatro pilares, que a su vez son huecos.

Fase 1. Los capiteles de los cuatro pilares forman la cubierta de a Sinagoga Hurva.

Fase 1. Los pilones contienen a los pilares y, como ellos, son también huecos.

Fase 1. Los pilones contienen a los pilares.

Reconstrucción gráfica computarizada del proyecto de la Sinagoga Hurva según Kahn (fase 1, 1967-68). Trabajo digital realizado por Francesco Cerbella y Federico Caponi en la Universidad de Florencia, noviembre de 2013 (Giorgio Verdiani, Seminario "Comunicare l'architettura e il design", Università degli Studi di Firenze; musica: Ludovico Einaudi-Ancora).

Kahn, Boceto de corte para la Sinagoga Hurva, propuesta en fase 2

Estructura interior concebida en hormigón armado funcionaría como una gran pared curva y casi flotante, fase 2

Doble estructura para la Sinagoga Hurva, axonometría, fase 2

Modelo en corte de la Sinagoga Hurva, con incidencia de la luz, fase 2 (Álvarez Prozorovich)

Fase 2. Planta de la Sinagoga Hurva.

Puntos de apoyo de la estructura mixta en fase 2 (ÁP)

Elementos de arquitectura y su organización en la sinagoga, fase 2 (Studiomaf-It)

Planta superior con galería y encuentro de elementos de arquitectura, fase 2 (ÁP)

Perspectiva con espacio central de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 2

Vista de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 2, mostrando diálogo de elementos de arquitectura

Corte de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 2

Larson, Corte de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 3, con torres refrigerantes e iluminación cenital que tiende a recordar el impluvium de las viviendas romanas.

Sistema estructural mixto de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 3 (Álvarez Prozorovich)

Axonometría de la Sinagoga Hurva en fase 3

En 1974, luego de haber dedicado ocho años a sus originales propuestas para la Sinagoga Hurva, Kahn muere en la cúspide de su carrera como arquitecto.
Samuel Bak, La medida del tiempo, óleo, 2006

Reconstrucción de Nahum Meltzer, 2000-2010

Nahum Meltzer, Reconstrucciones de la Sinagoga Hurva, c. 2000-2

Perspectiva computarizada por Meltzer

Modelo de la Sinagoga Hurva según fue construida por Efendi en el siglo XIX.
Museo de Israel, Jerusalén

Hurva, Jerusalén, 1977-2003

El arco recordatorio de 1977 poco antes de ser removido en 2006

Sutilezas de la tradición reconstructiva jerosolimitana. Bak, Cargado, óleo, 2008

Jerusalén, Sinagoga Hurva en reconstrucción, 2007

La Sinagoga Hurva en estado avanzado, 2009

El templo poco antes de ser oficialmente inaugurado

Invitación a la Sinagoga Hurva, 2010

Proximidades de la Sinagoga Hurva

Grabado decimonónico con la Sinagoga Hurva y su vecino minarete

Meltzer, La Sinagoga Hurva, Jerusalén, 2003-10

Exterior recubierto en piedra Jerusalén. El templo posee cúpula y tambor soportados por cuatro importantes arcos.

Interior fotografiado desde la galería en el tambor del templo

Interior de la antigua Sinagoga Hurva según el modelo en el Museo de Israel

En su basamento el templo posee un refugio antiaéreo.

Una de las fachadas del edificio da sobre una plaza seca.

Vitral inspirado en antiguo mapa con Jerusalén como punto de convergencia para las comunidades de Asia, Europa y África. Tal idea podría estar relacionada con aquella desarrollada por Heinrich Bünting en su mapa-trébol de 1581.

Meltzer, Interior sinagogal en dirección hacia el arca sagrada, 2010

Interior de la antigua Sinagoga Hurva en 1925

Como sinagoga tradicional, también La Sinagoga Hurva posee una Bimáh (plataforma elevada desde donde se lee la Toráh) y un Arón Ha-Kodesh (también conocido como Hejal, que en hebreo significa "santuario", es el arca sagrada donde son preservados los rollos de la Toráh).

Bimáh y Aarón Ha-Kódesh de la Sinagoga Hurva en 1871

Meltzer, Arón Ha-Kódesh de la Sinagoga Hurva, 2010. Nótese el tratamiento del muro que incluye los vestigios de la antigua sinagoga dinamitada en 1948.

Meltzer, Bimáh de la Sinagoga Hurva, 2010

El muro opuesto a aquél en el que se encuentra el Arón Ha-Kodesh presenta en el primer piso una galería desde donde las mujeres pueden asistir al servicio. El mural que enmarca la puerta de acceso al templo rememora el Salmo 137: "Junto a los ríos de Babilonia, nos sentábamos y llorábamos al acordarnos de Sión. Sobre los sauces colgamos nuestras arpas" (1-2).

La Sinagoga Hurva desde la galería en el tambor del templo

Plegaria matinal

Escala del edificio actual

Sinagoga con todos los varones de la congregación

La escala del templo en Jerusalén

Bajo la corona de David, el cortinado que cubre el Aarón Ha-Kódesh de la Sinagoga Hurva lleva bordadas las palabras del célebre rey de Israel en el Salmo 139: "Si me olvidara de ti, oh Jerusalén, pierda mi diestra [su destreza. Mi lengua se pegue a mi paladar]" (5-6). En la parte superior y bajo la corona del Todopoderoso, las Tablas de la Ley presentan Los Diez Mandamientos recibidos por Moisés ante los ojos de la congregación.

Vista aérea de Jerusalén hacia 1900. Mientras que en la parte superior derecha de esta fotografía pueden verse la Mezquita de Omar y el Muro Occidental, la Sinagoga Hurva se encuentra junto al borde inferior izquierdo de la misma. En proximidad a ella también sobresale Tiferet Israel (otra de las 49 sinagogas que serían destruidas en Jerusalén en 1948).

Vista actual de Jerusalén
Salaam Alekum | Shalom Aleijem

Como si hubiese tenido en su mente a la Sinagoga Hurva, el dieciochesco Rabí Nájman de Breslav enseñaba que todo el mundo es un puente muy estrecho y que lo fundamental es no tener miedo al cruzarlo.

Y, si la verdad termina siempre por flotar como aceite en agua. ¿Cuál es la verdad en lo que concierne a la Sinagoga Hurva? De ser comparadas, ¿constituyen las propuestas de Kahn y Meltzer un encuentro de dos mundos incompatibles y antagónicos? ¿Sí, no, por qué?

1. Sonja Friedmann, La sinagoga Hurva, La palabra israelita, Santiago de Chile, 12.8.11, p. 12
2. Para una discusión sobre la relación entre los hebreos y el violín, ver Violín a cuestas: encrucijadas históricas del pueblo judío (Universidad ORT Uruguay, 2005) y El violín: un invento sefaradí, El Catoblepas, N°91, 2009, p. 5.

Recursos disponibles en Internet
Arte e Identidad
El Caso Hurva
Premio Impronta en Crítica Arquitectónica
¿Reconstruyendo la Ruina?
Metamorfosis de un símbolo

• Investigación, compilación, edición, secuencia y notas: Mariano Akerman, 2013 © Todos los derechos reservados. Las imágenes son presentadas con propósitos exclusivamente educativos y pertenecen ya sea al dominio común o bien son propiedad de sus respectivos dueños. Fuera del marco del Premio Impronta, queda prohibida la reproducción total o parcial del presente trabajo sin el previo consentimiento por escrito de su autor, quien retiene los derechos que forman parte de su patrimonio intelectual.