Defense of Tanner mural based on incorrect notions


Dean Robert Newman’s response (“Lenowitz’s claims about mural inaccurate and unprofessional,” Oct. 9) to my letter regarding the tile mural in the entry hall of the Tanner Humanities Building chastises me for not recognizing that the “faux Hebrew” that appears there is actually a “passage from the Sarajevo Haggadah.”

I would be fascinated to learn what passage he imagines is quoted in the mural since, as I previously mentioned, the Hebrew letters that appear in the mural do not actually make words, and the thick and crude form of the letters is quite different from the elegant script used in the Sarajevo Haggadah.

Moreover, the image of a bespectacled Jew with “pe’ot” (sidelocks) that hang free has no connection that I know of with either the illustrations in the Sarajevo Haggadah or other works in 14th-century Spain. Such was not the custom of the time and place.

An illuminated Spanish contemporary with the Sarajevo Haggadah shows the more common form of flattened sidelocks with short untwisted hair.

My thanks to Dean Newman for making the “true meaning” of this artwork clear.

Harris Lenowitz,
Department of Languages and Literature