Beyn Gavra

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News, Public Art | 0 comments

Beyn Gavra

A happy byproduct of the explosion of interest in Jewish ritual arts over the last 30 years is that people have been delving deep and ‘recovering’ a knowledge of objects and ceremonies that have gathered generations of dust in many American Jewish communities.  The Beyn Gavra is one such object.  Though many people are familiar with the custom of respectfully covering the Torah scroll with a decorative cloth or it’s mantle during lulls between readings, most people are unfamiliar with the name of this covering.  The Beyn Gavra has recently been embraced as yet another opportunity for congregations to involve in the act of “hiddur mitzvah,” the enhancement of ritual observance by making it beautiful. Here is a needlepoint Beyn Gavra I designed for a synagogue. It was crafted by several different needleworkers working on small looms.  When completed, the segments were professionally assembled.  I sewed a sleeve onto the back so it served as a focal object hung next to the ark when it was not in use over the Torah scroll.  I painted the needlepoint scrim, counting the holes so that the designs on all four sides lined up exactly when finished and assembled. Sadly, this piece was lost in an accidental fire that destroyed the synagogue.  Lost, too, were the needlepoint doors of the ark and the 5 Torah mantles, each of which I had designed.  One of the remarkable stories that came from the event is that the mantles, heavily stitched in wool and perle cotton and backed with heavy velvet, took the brunt of the heat, water, and soot that destroyed the ark, and served to protect the scrolls, 4 of which were restored after the...

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Pomegranate Torah Mantle

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Jewish Ritual Art, News | 0 comments

Pomegranate Torah Mantle

Students at the Goucher College Hillel responded to a questionnaire I constructed with requests that one of their two Torah mantles feature “jewel tones” and a way to convey to future students and visitors that Goucher has provided an inclusive, inspiring springboard for life within and beyond the college campus.  The words “Hazak V’Nitkhazek”  (Be strong, and let us strengthen one another) was the text the Hillel directors and I settled upon, and the beauty and recognizable ritual familiarity of the pomegranate represents the richness of the college experience and also a recognition that for most of Goucher’s history it was a highly regarded women’s college. The materials are thickly quilted silks, hand-braided cording, garnet and Czech glass beads, and Lumiere fabric paint....

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In God’s Image Papercut

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Awards, Certificates, and Commissioned Works, News, Papercuts | 0 comments

In God’s Image Papercut

When a dynamic rabbi announced to his congregation that his path would be taking him to another synagogue, I was asked to craft a papercut to capture the values he was able to instill and realize during his tenure.  Access with great respect – Inclusion B’Kavod – became the synagogue’s watchword, and in education, worship, and physical accessibility, the community embraced a way of living that continues to bring Jews who are wired differently and who face a variety of challenges to be totally integrated in the life of the shul.  And so the committee chose the Hebrew phrase meaning “In God’s Image” to present to Rabbi Aronson as a lasting token of gratefulness and love. The papercut is intricately cut from one sheet of paper and mounted, floating 3/8″ above a background watercolor painting which is a swirl of the deep colors mentioned in the Torah as those colors of the original weavings and priestly garments in the desert:  Purple, Blue, and...

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In Every Generation

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Awards, Certificates, and Commissioned Works, News, Public Art | 0 comments

In Every Generation

For many years, Professor Yehudi Lindeman and Irene Angelico have conducted a special annual seder on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Commemmoration Day. They developed their own beautiful hagaddah, a guidebook to those who wish to recreate the ritual.  I was honored to be asked to create some few calligraphic touches for the book that was recently published by Vehicule Press in Montreal. This panel translates roughly to mean “In every generation one should look to oneself as though he or she had personally left Egypt.” The original painting is lettered in gouache over a watercolor wash....

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Rosh Hodesh Event

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in News, Upcoming Events | 0 comments

Rosh Hodesh Event

I’ll be presenting an hour long program titled “Women’s Spiritual Yearnings in Yiddish Song” as Rosh Hodesh Sivan is marked by a gathering of Jewish women in Harrisburg, PA on Thursday, May 9, 2013.  Traditionally a women’s festival, over the last 30 years or so Rosh Hodesh (the new month) observance has been revived as a time to explore as well as celebrate.  I look forward to joining the group and sharing some remarkable Yiddish songs and...

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Poring over Shop Drawings!

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in News, Susan at work, Visual Art | 0 comments

Poring over Shop Drawings!

  A few months before this photo was taken, I never would have imagined myself at home in a woodworker’s shop studying architect’s drawings!  But here I am, poring over Steve Spector’s plans for the ark wall about to rise in a new synagogue as I calculate the amount of art glass I’d be cutting and grinding.  Back in junior high school, when my friend Eve Sandberg petitioned all the way to the superintendent of schools to be permitted to take wood shop (and failed!) neither of us could have imagined this.  What a life! (photo by Michael Green)    ...

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