My Jewish Hero! This week… Marc Chagall
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

My Jewish Hero! This week… Marc Chagall

Brenda Dinsdale picks out artist Marc Chagall as their inspirational Jewish figure

Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Segal in Lionza, near Vitebsk in the Pale of Settlement, on 24 June 1887, and was a true “hero of our times”.

Born into a deeply religious Chasidic family, he managed in his work to cross the line of religious inhibitions about pictorial religious art by developing a kind of visual metaphor linked to folk imagery.

His physical journey took him from Vitebsk to St Petersburg, Paris, Berlin and Soviet Belarus again, all the time enhancing his painting.

His continued travelling opened up more vistas of mysticism and his arrival in Palestine was, indeed, a “mountain-top experience”, where he would identify with the early chalutzim (pioneers).

He had “found” the Bible, which resonated from then on through his work. His emotional journey had begun, reinforced when he met his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld. Of course, he had to convince Bella’s parents that he was a worthy shidduch and this must have contributed to his determination to succeed.

By the time the Second World War had started, Chagall was no longer in favour with the Germans.

In 1941, when it was almost too late, the somewhat naive Chagalls were helped by a USA operation to migrate to America, along with 2,000 other artists and musicians.

Even though, as an adult, he was no longer a practising Jew, Chagall always credited his Russian cultural background as the source of his art.
Further, he went on to expand the religious message by including Jewish and Christian themes.

So what was his legacy, this hero of the modern world and my own Jewish hero?

Undoubtedly he was a visionary – a citizen of the world while also recognising his “inner child”.

His work reflects the need for world tolerance and is an inspiration to us all.

Let us leave the last words to Chagall himself: “My painting represents not the dream of one people, but of all humanity.”

• Brenda Dinsdale is a Reform Judaism trustee and member of Newcastle Reform Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments