The Rabbis (1919)

Jacob Kramer (died 1962) painted The Rabbis around 1919. His family came from the Ukraine and settled in Leeds in 1900. Like many other Anglo-Jewish artists of the time, such as Bomberg, his early artistic studies were funded by the Jewish Educational Aid Society. From 1912, he was enrolled at the Slade School of Art.

Kramer developed a simple, geometric style derived from a mixture of influences, including the angular cubism of the Spaniard Picasso and the semi-abstract work of the Vorticists, of which Wyndham Lewis's (died 1957) Tyro is a superb example. The Rabbis evokes the character and atmosphere of Jewish tradition, which was Kramer's familiar background. How solemn and dignified they look, even in this angular and shadowy style of depiction. Yet how sad they appear, too. European Jewry had much to be sad about; those who fled Europe to Britain and America likely fared better than those who did not. Yet there is a reason for even the gravest, severest and melancholic of people to laugh and rejoice:

But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile Romans 2:10

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus Philippians 3:3a