Saturday, February 21, 2004

Lecture series examines religious images of women

Faith matters

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

Art and faith have had a connection throughout the history of the world, and next week, local museums and religious groups will look at that connection in the world's three largest faiths.

The Artistic Expressions of Faith series will focus this year on "Images of Women in Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

"If we really think about civilization, when it's all said and done, our art is the documentation of our culture. It's our record of who we are," said Abby Schwartz, the series' coordinator and curator of education for the Taft Museum. "Artistic expression has a spiritual element, and it's a natural outgrowth of faith."

And this year's topic seems to have touched a chord; more than 170 people have already registered for the three-part lecture series, put on by the Taft, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Skirball Museum at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Xavier University and the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.

"People are seeking out their faith, and this combination of three faiths and the topic of women is something people are really interested in," said Schwartz, who will also speak as part of the evening on Christian art.

The series includes a talk on women in the Torah and images of Jewish heroines Thursday, with a tour of the Skirball Museum, beginning at 6 p.m.

Then on March 4, a tour and talks on the Virgin Mary in Christian art are scheduled at the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park.

And finally, a tour of the mosque at the Islamic Center in West Chester happens on March 11, with talks about women's roles in Islam and images of and by women.

Rabbi Ken Ehrlich, dean of HUC, will speak about women in the Torah, especially three standouts, Deborah from the Book of Judges; Miriam, Moses' sister; and Zipporah, Moses' wife.

He said the study of women in scripture is often neglected but important for both men and women to understand.

"When we read with a different and fresh perspective, it gives a whole new meaning to not only the biblical stories but to their message as well," Ehrlich said.

To register for the series, call Schwartz at 684-4516 or online Web site.

FAT SUNDAY: Christ Church Cathedral, Fourth and Sycamore streets downtown, will host a Fat Sunday celebration at 5 p.m. with a Dixieland service and New Orleans-style supper.

The service, which will begin with a procession in the tradition of street music, will feature well-known Gospel music. The dinner is potluck, with rice and beans supplied, and no reservations are necessary.

For more information call the church at 621-1817 cq.

To submit religion news, e-mail or send a fax to 755-4150.

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