Artist Criticized For Depicting Jesus As Though He Had Been, You Know, Jewish

God bless small-town Christian America.
The Chicago Tribune reports that depictions of a Jewish Jesus have caused quite a controversey in LaCrosse, WI. Clara Maria Goldstein had ten pictures exhibited at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, but several days later she was required to come take them down due to complaints.

“It was insulting at first, but now I’m just sad,” Goldstein said. “The Bible says Jesus was a Jew, but no one wants Jesus painted as a Jew.”
The hospital issued a statement Monday saying its officials respect people of all faiths and acknowledge “an artist’s right to express their personal beliefs through their work.”
But it said they have “an obligation to determine what is appropriate for our diverse patient population, and our healing environment.”

I wonder what they mean by “diverse patient population.” I bet the images weren’t very distressing to the Hindu patients.
Full story here. You can check out the paintings (which don’t hold a candle to Chagall’s White Crucifixion, but whatever) here.

9 thoughts on “Artist Criticized For Depicting Jesus As Though He Had Been, You Know, Jewish

  1. There’s a more simple and obvious reason to take these paintings down…
    My goodness, they’re just….HORRIBLE.

  2. It is funny how much context matters. Had these paintings been part of an explicit J-for-J campaign, we would find them offensive ourselves. I favor keeping a bright line between the religions, so I don’t mind these paintings not finding a market.

  3. I do enjoy Jesus’ game show host-esque smile in the second painting though.
    “And heeere’s your host of Win, Lose or Walk on Water…Jeeeeeesus.”

  4. Speaking as a professional nurse, the ‘quality’ of these paintings are standard fare for hospital walls.
    As a political activist, I see the take-down as another bit of evidence that the ‘Christians’ who support everything that Israel does, which meets with Bush/Cheney’s approval, are true Jew – haters.
    This is why they don’t want to see Jesus as the Jew that he was…

  5. I don’t understand what everyoe is upset about. Aside from being bad art, the paintings are almost depictions of regular Jewish religious life. Which is what Jesus would have gone through right?
    Has anyone seen Bettina Rheims book of photos I.N.R.I? She depicts Jesus as a Jew and uses a lot of Jewish symbolism in the photographs.

  6. The reason Christians feel threatened when Jesus is depicted as a Jew lies in the way the images touch the subconscious insecurity of Christianity and Christians, invoking a fear that has dogged them lo these 2000 years and more: What if — since Jesus and Christianity’s founding saints were all loyal Jews — their followers should be Jews, too? Uh-oh!
    After much debate (recorded in the Christian scriptures) the founders of the Jesus movement gave non-Jews permission to join their group without first becoming Jews. But they agreed to this request grudgingly. Jesus himself declared that he came only to the House of Israel. Paul wrote that non-Jews are “wild olive branches” grafted onto the cultivated olive tree of Israel. Oh, no-o-o-oooo…
    As long as Judaism survives it mocks the (later) Christian assertion that after the death of Jesus, God turned away from us. The early church looked for Jesus to return in their lifetimes. When it didn’t happen, they had to find a place for Jews in Christian theology that would account for our continuing presence in the world. Because their savior hasn’t come back for them, but we’re still here. There’s probably not a Christian who would admit it, but on a deep level this is terribly scary for them. And now that they’ve pretty much rejected the ancient interpretation that Jews are in the world to show how those who reject Jesus will suffer (!!), they’ve figured out another way to include us in their (truly scary) doomsday scenario. “Yeah, that’s right, we need the Jews to be around, that’s the ticket…”
    Funny how the followers of Jesus reject his primary call to drop everything and follow in his footsteps, since his footsteps were, y’know, too Jewy.

  7. I agree with many of the above comments, especially the look-in-the-mirror/if the artist? was part of a jews for jesus campaign. Although i don’t agree for the need for that “bright line between religions”. We can’t ignore the many geographical and historical commonalities and intersections between the monotheistic religions and how much they influenced each other’s cultures (i.e. the Arab-Jewish impact on Southern Spain). The idea that Jesus was a Jew, or Moses is considered a prophet in the Koran, is important for helping people like Rabbi Barry Cytron…
    … continue to promote dialogue and understanding between the faiths. Besides how important it is for younger people to understand the universalities in religions and myths in how they deal with issues such as good, evil, life and death, and the way we should live our lives.
    But from looking at the quality of these paintings, I wouldn’t be surprised if the artist was a J. for J. After having just spent four hours in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, I would have to say that the artist… well, it is LaCrosse and… I had no idea my eight-grade english teacher was Jesus.

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