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by Laurie Bellet
I write this as I am flying home from my holiday weekend, spent directing the Art Studio at the first annual Limmud conference in Los Angeles. Conference art experiences always put me in a reflective state, musing on the creative endeavors of the venture and the remarkable, unexpected ways children and adults use art materials.
When I used to plan my work, project by project, I would select the activities that I knew would assure a pleasing outcome. Participants created according to my plans, knowing the expected outcome from my sample and, they would generally be reasonably satisfied when finished. I could survey 25 or so completed art pieces and content myself with a competent job. But, there was no anticipatory curiosity, no ongoing dialog or challenge and certainly no concluding thrill of discovery.
Now, I conduct conference studios as I do my school art program. I stock my temporary, art studio, homes with art essentials like paints, a variety of “canvasses,” supplies for sculpting and materials for collage and always include some irresistible items of Judaic significance. Then, I wait for my attendant artists to create the magic energy that fuels the conference art experience. I apologize that I do not have photos of our LimmudLA Art Studio triumphs but, the studio was, happily, too busy for me to play photographer! I will try to transmit the joy with my words.
Given the proximity of Purim, I stocked the LimmudLA studio with, among many other things, masks and graggers. Through the years, my students have taught me that masks provide an amazing blank canvas on which to reveal emotions, relate stories, and give dimension to characters.
by Carol Oseran Starin
In 1962, when the twelve stained glass windows he created for Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center were formally installed, Marc Chagall said,
How is it that the air and earth of Vitebsk, my birthplace, and thousands of years of exile, find themselves mingled in the air and earth of Jerusalem?
How could I have thought that not only my hands with their colors would direct me in my work, but that the poor hands of my parents and of others and still others with their mute lips and their closed eyes, who gathered and whispered behind me, would direct me as if they also wished to take part in my life?
What’s a Jewish artist? A Jewish person who makes art? A Jewish person who makes Jewish art? What’s Jewish art?
Big philosophical questions. We’re not going there.
Many people have asked us about ways to bring art and art appreciation into the Jewish classroom. We’ll stick to visual artists and do that in two parts. Today, we’ll talk about well known Jewish artists. Next time we’ll talk about strategies and activities to help students get inside of Jewish art.
I asked the 5 things advisory group to list 5 Jewish artists kids should know about. Here are more than 5 artists recommended, with notes, by Laurie Bellet, our “resident” art guru.
The Torah Aura Productions offices have been busy lately.
Josh and Jane were in Chicago last week for the Jewish Educators Assembly conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Skokie. They had a great time showing off new products (check out Josh’s giant poster-sized version of his new book), and they had an even better time meeting new people and seeing old friends. Accomplishment of the Week: Josh figured out how to hook up his laptop to his hotel room’s TV, so he and Jane were able to watch a documentary about fonts. No joke… it was a whole movie about fonts.
One of our recent publications, Twenty Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do by Kerry Olitzky and Paul Golin, was featured in an article by the JTA’s Sue Fishkoff. The piece was published in a bunch of Jewish papers nationwide, and it even was translated to German and published in the big Jewish paper over there in Deutchland, Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung.
Our internet was down for a couple of hours this week, and that had Alan preoccupied. If you sent any of us an email on Thursday evening or Friday morning, it took awhile for us to get it. We apologize, and so does our internet provider.
So, thanks to someone pushing the right buttons over at AT&T headquarters, we’re back up now. It was a little internet miracle in honor of Adar. Okay… It’s only Adar Aleph. But Happy Adar anyway!
In our last issue, Idie Benjamin wrote about report cards and progress reports. Soon after, we got this note from Louis Nagel, Education Director at Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, Maryland:
Here is a comment one of my teachers wrote in a progress report:
“In a Chanukkah lesson on feeling Jewish, he wrote that a time he was proud to be Jewish was when he made his ‘mom feel better when my Aunt Mary died.’ He has demonstrated that he’s learned the meaning of comforting the bereaved, a concept covered in a S’fatai Tiftah story. It was a very meaningful connection for Zachary to make.”
I hope all is well with you.
Interested in exploring Hebrew/prayer materials that do so much more than prepare your students for b’nai mitzvah? Sample packs of S’fatai Tiftah, Journeys Through the Siddur, and Pirkei T’fillah are now available. Contact Josh Barkin (email@example.com or 323-923-6026) for more info.