Paintings by Yankel Ginzburg brighten Schulman Center at Vanderbilt; Donations part of drive to make Jewish students feel at home

Download a high-resolution photo of Yankel Ginzburg.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ñ Until recently, there was definitely something
missing at the Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life at Vanderbilt

The 10,000-square-foot building, dedicated in 2002, is designed to be a
focal point for Jewish social and cultural life on campus. It has a
pool table and lounge/study area, room for worship services and
meetings, and the only kosher vegetarian restaurant in Nashville.

"They had this beautiful structure but no art," said Yankel Ginzburg, a
world- famous painter and sculptor who first visited the Schulman
Center for a beginning-of-the-semester bagel breakfast with son Aviel
Ginzburg, a Vanderbilt freshman studying economics and psychology.

"Since I am an artist, and I know other artists, I told the director I
would see if we could find some donors to donate some art for the

That led to a February visit by Yankel Ginzburg with wife Pam to hang
four of his paintings at the Schulman Center. The paintings were
donated by three patrons contacted by the artist: Washington attorney
Dirk Thomas, Dr. Howard Kurland and his wife Ethel of Chicago, and
former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Henry Kimelman and his wife Charlotte
of Chicago.

Yankel Ginzburg is also trying to arrange the donation of a painting by his friend Yaacov Agam to the Schulman Center.

"I do this out of love," Yankel Ginzburg said. "My son thought he
was a Southern gentleman trapped in the North, so he came to Vanderbilt.

"We want to make sure he doesn’t lose his heritage."

Aviel Ginzburg will get at least one solid reminder of his roots when
he encounters his father’s painting "Sabbath is Coming" in the Schulman
Center. He helped inspire it.

"It’s a moment I captured from when I was in Jerusalem with my son for
the first time," Yankel Ginzburg remembers. "Aviel was curious when he
saw Orthodox Jews holding their children by the hands and rushing at
sundown. I explained to him that the Sabbath was coming. That painting
is based on that little incident with him."

The other Ginzburg paintings hanging in the Schulman Center are "The Old City," "Ancient Story" and "Legend of Lost Time."

The four paintings incorporate Jewish themes, though not all of Yankel
Ginzburg’s work does so. He paints in a photorealistic style and
prefers vibrant colors. Collectors of his work include former President
Bill Clinton, Herman Wouk, Donald Trump, Barbra Streisand and Michael

Appropriate artwork is essential to the mission of the Schulman Center,
said Shaiya Baer, executive director of Vanderbilt Hillel Inc. He hopes
the Ginzburg paintings will be the beginning of an expanding collection.

"Many of these students are far from home, and many of them come from
strong Jewish communities, and Vanderbilt hasn’t been known for having
a particularly strong Jewish environment in the past," Baer said. "We
think by having good art with Jewish themes, students will feel more at

As part of the University’s efforts to diversify the student body,
Vanderbilt has taken a number of steps in recent years to address the
needs of its Jewish students.
Ben Schulman, a 1939 graduate of the University, contributed $1 million
to the construction costs of the Schulman Center. Its setting across
the street from Memorial Gymnasium was the Vanderbilt home for many
years of Zeta Beta Tau, a traditionally Jewish fraternity.

Vanderbilt is also rapidly expanding its Program in Jewish Studies and is home to the largest Judaica library in the Southeast.

"There came a point where I realized that if I didn’t get out and see
something else, I would never leave the North," Aviel Ginzburg said.
"Oddly enough, I also started listening to country music, leading me to
take a look at Nashville.

"At Vanderbilt you’ve got the amazing Hillel, you’ve got the
possibility of expanding the Jewish community, and the school itself.

"I’m thrilled. I love it here."

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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