“THE PROPHETIC QUEST”
The stained glass windows of artist Jacob Landau (1917 – 2001)
The Korn Memorial Sanctuary of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel is home to the breathtaking series of stained glass windows created by noted artist Jacob Landau. At the time he received the KI commission Jacob Landau was a mature artist with work in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and its Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was especially known for his portrayal of the perilous challenges of the 20th century, including the Great Depression, WWII, Hiroshima and the Holocaust.
For this project Landau proposed the subject, “The Prophetic Quest” and determined to explore the prophetic tradition through two major themes: God’s demand that human beings live justly, and the human struggle to comprehend the roots of evil and suffering.
Landau’s tour-de-force consists of 10 windows each over 24 feet tall by 5 feet wide that were fabricated by the respected Willet Stained Glass Studio in Philadelphia. The project was completed in 1974.
Viewers are moved by the timeless images both ancient and modern at once. The words of the Bible, in Hebrew and in English, create forms dancing around the somber prophets, sometimes violent, sometimes tender, and always intense. The vibrantly colored windows are at their most glorious during the High Holydays, when the autumn sunlight sets them aglow and they contribute to the introspective mood of the congregation.
TOUR THE WINDOWS
Forty-five minute tours of “The Prophetic Quest” stained glass windows are given for groups by prior reservation. A minimum fee of $50 is charged for groups of 25 people or less. Additional people are $2.50 each. Groups may also schedule tours, or self-guided visits, to The Temple Judea Museum to coincide with “The Prophetic Quest” tour at no additional fee. KI is an accessible facility.
The tour guides tell the stories of the commission and the collaboration between Jacob Landau, who had never before worked with glass, and internationally recognized stained glass artist, Benoit Gilsoul, who translated Landau’s water color sketches into paper cartoons (patterns). Most importantly, they lead viewers “into the glass paintings” to understand the vision of this complicated and accomplished artist as he imagined, and told the story of “The Prophetic Quest”.