Bezalel “Tzali” Narkiss, founder and first director of the Hebrew University, died on June 27, 2008, at age 81.Narkiss was the Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History at the Hebrew University, where he had been on the faculty since 1964.
Narkiss founded the (CJA) in 1979 and created the Jerusalem Index of Jewish Art to document and virtually preserve endangered Jewish art and architecture. In nearly 30 years, CJA has done work in more than 40 countries (many in Eastern Europe) to preserve Jewish art, Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, ritual objects, synagogues, Jewish buildings, mikva’ot and tombstones. The documentation process includes a written description, architectural plans and photographs.
Narkiss received the Israel Prize in 1999 for his work.
Throughout his long career at the Hebrew University, Narkiss served as guest faculty at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, at Brown University and at Princeton University. In addition to his teaching positions, Narkiss was art editor for the Massada Press (1963—1975) and for the massive Encyclopaedia Judaica project (1965—1970), as well as holding the title editor-in-chief of the Journal of Jewish Art (1974—1986).—D.D.R.