Crossposted from Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments
For the past year I’ve been curator of the Plastics Collection at Syracuse University, and while I have not given up my research and activism vis-a-vis Jewish art and architecture, I have launched into to a new work area. Usually, I just split my interests — plastics by day, and teaching “Art and Architecture of the Synagogue” at night. But occasionally I can bring these two seemingly disparate disciplines together.
One such occasion came last July, when I was in Cologne, Germany, to comment on the ongoing archaeological excavations of the medieval synagogue and Judengasse. I took the opportunity to visit the Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam Bakelite Collection of Reindert Groot, to discuss possibilities of collaboration. Besides showing me hundreds of notable plastic objects, mostly from the 1920s to 1940s, Reindert knew I would want to see the above pictured plastic yahrzeit “candles.” Today we are used to seeing plastic lights, including memorial lamps and Hanukkah menorahs, but these are very early examples.