Ben-Zion | Art of Jewish High Holy Days

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, serves as the beginning of a month of festivities and introspection for Jewish people worldwide. Wishes are offered for a sweet and happy new year, and traditionally Jews gather in synagogues for prayer. During the ten days following Rosh Hashanah, Jews reflect on the past year, noting where to give and ask for forgiveness. This period culminates with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The harvest festivals of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret end these “days of awe and celebration,” concluding joyously with a reading of the Hebrew Bible on Simchat Torah.

Prayer, celebration, and introspection powerfully imbue Ben-Zion’s nature and Jewish-themed artwork. His depictions of men wearing the tallit (prayer shawl), gazing into prayer books, and observing Sukkot with the blessing of a lulav and etrog (palm fronds and citron) show his deep relationship with Jewish tradition. Ben-Zion’s beloved walks in the Carpathian mountains of his youth echoed the footsteps of the Baal Shem Tov, the Jewish mystic, who meditated ecstatically in that same landscape. Ben-Zion’s painterly depictions of the Baal Shem in the forest convey both his own and the mystic’s spiritual communion with nature.

image Jew in Tallit 1962
image Sukkot 1953
image Baal Shem Tov 1970
image Baal Shem Tov 1970
image Jew with Tefillin 1945
image Jew with Etrog and Lulav 1961
image Prayer 1947