STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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The large stained glass windows at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park are so legendary that they now have their own comic book.
In order to better understand the multi-layered religious significance of “The Prophetic Quest” — the collective title for the 10 windows in the KI Korn Memorial Sanctuary — Philadelphia graphic artist and digital designer J.T. Waldman has published “Opening the Windows: A Readers’ Guide to ‘The Prophetic Quest’ — The Stained Glass Windows of Jacob Landau.” In the book, the images in the windows speak directly to you, connecting stories from the Torah to striving for justice, mercy and truth in the present, and to the possible future. At the end, Waldman inserts himself into the book to have a one-on-one conversation about it with the artist himself. Landau passed away in 2001.
Waldman’s original drawings for the readers’ guide graphic novel can be found in a special exhibition in KI’s Temple Judea Gallery, “Opening the Windows: J.T. Waldman Considers ‘The Prophetic Quest,’ Jacob Landau’s Massive Stained Glass Windows.”
Those windows have been there a long time, haven’t they?
Installed in 1974, Landau was commissioned by KI in 1970.
How long will the “Opening the Windows” exhibit be up?
Through Dec. 31.
Tell me about the Temple Judea Museum.
It’s on the campus of the Keneseth Israel synagogue, 8339 Old York Road, Elkins Park. The museum has more than 3,000 objects from around the world in its permanent collection, while regarding contemporary art as “essential to a fully realized Jewish visual experience.” The museum and KI commissioned Waldman to create the “Opening the Windows” readers’ guide to interpret “The Prophetic Quest” for a new audience in a new century.
When is the museum open?
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, till 9 p.m. Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
Will there be an opening reception?
Yes. An opening program and gallery reception, which is free and open to the community, will begin at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 with “The Lost Comic and Pulp Art of Jacob Landau,” an illustrated lecture by Steve Brower, a graphic designer, author and professor at Marywood University.
Wait, Jacob Landau was a comic book artist too?
Yes, Landau had designed comic books and used a comic art approach in his “Prophetic Quest” windows, which make references to Abraham, Elijah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Second Isaiah, Job and Malachi.
Tell me more about J.T. Waldman.
He’s best known for his graphic novel “Megillat Esther,” published in 2005 by the Jewish Publication Society. In 2012, his collaboration with Harvey Pekar, “Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me,” reached the New York Times Best Seller List. He has contributed to two books that detail the intersection of comic books and Judaism, as well as historical anthologies. He lectures at colleges and conferences on topics ranging from comic books and religion to visual narratives and Midrash.
Can I contact the museum?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (215) 887-2027.