JHOM - Personalities - Bezalel

Bezalel son of Ur

Bezalel of the tribe of Judah was the biblical artist to whom the building of the the mishkan (Tabernacle) was attributed: “The Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with a divine spirit of skill and understanding and knowledge in every craft: in the production of embroidery, in making things of gold, silver or bronze, in cutting and mounting precious stones, in carving wood, and in every craft.'” [1]

When sculptor/professor Boris Schatz founded the Bezalel Center for Handicrafts in Jerusalem in 1906, he named it after the biblical Bezalel. Schatz, who had headed the Royal Academy of Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, sought to train Jerusalemites in the handicrafts, to find visual expression for the spiritual and national renaissance taking place in Palestine, and to create a synthesis of western, eastern, Jewish and European artistic traditions.

Next to the Center for Handicrafts Schatz established a museum of arts, archaeology and folklore where he employed hundreds of craftsmen. This museum was eventually separated from the school and in time became Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.

In 1929 the Bezalel School the Arts was closed down as a result of financial difficulties that had begun during WWI. Schatz set out to recruit funds for the institution, which reopened in 1935 under the name “New Bezalel School for Arts and Crafts” (headed by the Berlin printmaker, Josef Budko). A large number well-known art teachers arrived during the large wave of immigration from Germany during this period.

The School for Arts and Crafts was elevated to the status of institute of higher academic learning in 1969, and its name was changed to “Bezalel – Academy for Arts and Design.” One could now earn here a Bachelor of Arts degree.

In 2002 Bezalel initiated a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts (M.F.A) program in collaboration with the Hebrew University, as well as an independent Industrial Design Master’s Degree (M.Des).

excerpted This text is an expanded version of the Musag Hashavua (Concept of the Week) column in the Hebrew newspaper Sh'aar Lamathil.

Edited by the Israeli Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture and published by Yedioth Aharonot, Sha'ar Lamathil is Israel's most established and popular easy-Hebrew newspaper. Written in simple Hebrew with big, bold letters and vowels underneath, Sha'ar Lamathil is distributed throughout Israel and around the world wherever Hebrew is read and taught.

Sha'ar Lamathil may be ordered via their website.

excerpted [1] Exodus 31: 1-4



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