Tikkun Olam: To Repair the World explores the overwhelming contribution of Jewish artists to the creation ofModernism and subsequently to Post-modern practices in to the 21st century. The paper is predicatedon the theory that Jewish artists, either secular or otherwise, entering post-war arts culture at mid-century, brought with them a deeply embodied commitment to tikkun olam. Tikkun olam is an aspectof Tzedakah, derived from the Hebrew root Tzade-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness.Engaging in acts of tikkun olam is a primary means of satisfying the need to create a sense of Jewishcommunity and identity, however, this paper posits that for post-war Jews, engaging in acts of tikkunolam, was a way of repairing the world at large, healing the gaping wounds of WWII, and instantiatingrighteousness through art practice. Even while practicing assimilation, European émigré Jewish artistsand their American born peers performed a particular kind of art making practice that engaged theirJewishness, albeit often surreptitiously, toward a more egalitarian, democratic ideology that reified thevalue of the individual in society as well as the healing power of art.
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