The 10th grade honors humanities class at Heichal HaTorah recently made the Metropolitan Museum of Art their classroom for an afternoon. Guided by their regular instructor, Rabbi Dr. Mitchell Rocklin from Princeton University, they applied their learning on a specialized tour through art history. From the museum’s late-Roman era Jewish art, they journeyed through the Middle Ages, taking a look at the “reverse perspective” they had studied in their lessons. After being stared at by this iconic art, which was meant to inspire a sense of awe in the viewer, they flowed into Italian and Dutch Renaissance galleries, seeing linear perspective bring people to life from the painter’s perspective.
After detouring to the arms and armor collection, there was the vivid detail and emotion of 18th century art, including larger-than-life portraits of aristocrats in action, before heading out for pizza and hanging out in the military-only lounge at the Port Authority USO with their National Guardsman teacher. All this was made possible by Heichal’s partnership with the Tikvah Fund, which has helped design a joint humanities program that combines Western history, literature and religion into one integrated course offered from a traditional perspective that uses classroom instruction and cultural excursions to inspire students with an appreciation of how a ben Torah ought to appreciate how religion and culture are responsible for each other in the uniquely creative West.