by Paul Rovin Beit T’shuvah is a long term addiction rehab program that provides the recovery needs of alcoholics, drug abusers, gambling addiction and other treatments. Its credo is “to change lifestyle that is destructive and to rediscover passion for life and purpose.” We use the Torah as well as twelve-step programs to achieve these goals. I run an art program that also helps facilitate residents getting out of their heads and finding some outlets through the arts. One of our most recent programs involves building and decorating tzedakah boxes. I created the initial design for the boxes and assemble them, while residents design them using markers, colored pencils and paint. The project was the brainchild of an ex-resident’s mother who challenged the community to buy a box (they are a bargain at $25.00) and to bring the collection from their homes to a larger tzedakah box found on the Beit T’Shuvah campus. You can help support the cause of rehabilitation of addicts by contacting me at Paulrovin@gmail.com and purchasing a tzedakah box. I will provide photographs of the boxes we have available, and you will be able to select one of your choosing. A shipping charge will be added. For more information on Beit T’shuvah, visit http://www.beittshuvah.org/ Note: Although the American Guild of Judaic Art is not affiliated in any way with the Beit T’shuvah program, we are proud to spread the word about this program that facilitates recovery and serves as an outlet to express oneself through the healing nature of art and are fulfilling the commandment of Hiddur Mitzvah.
Congratulations/Mazel Tov to member Larry Schloss – this year’s Jewish Arts Month Essay Winner! Jewish Arts Month 2015 Essay Competition Juror Suzi Brozman selected member Larry Schloss’s essay. Larry will receive the book, “The Jewish World: 100 Treasures of Art and Culture” – Skira-Rizzoli publications. Juror’s statement, by Suzi Brozman: I read each essay several times. At first, I was touched by the references to family, Judaism, and the artistic process expressed in each piece. But one essay stuck in my mind, and each time I read all of them, one kept standing out in its expressiveness. That essay is the one by Lawrence Schloss. His language spoke to the creative artisan in me, reminding me of my own struggles with materials, history and emotion as well as the topics I chose to try to portray. I especially felt moved by the artist’s knowledge that he cannot reach inside a viewer’s mind, but has to rely on his own feelings, hoping they can convey his meaning. In a world where anti-Semitism and internal struggle are paramount, Mr. Schloss understands the conflict in seeing, feeling and creating. Even without ever having seen his works, I feel as though I can learn from his sculptures. All of our essayists feel deeply about Judaism and its effects on their art. This essay expresses those feelings most superbly. Identify and discuss how your Judaic art has influenced or impacted the viewer’s feeling about Judaism. by Lawrence Schloss, Scuptor I am unable to enter the mind of the viewer, hence my observations regarding how my sculptures have impacted the viewing audience’s feelings about Judaism are strictly subjective. Having established this fact, I will proceed to explain how I would hope my work effects those who choose to visit my Judaic sculptures. My Judaic sculptures do not celebrate the warm and loving memories of growing up Jewish. They are devoid of the wonderful food, smells, sounds and joy of Jewish life in 1950’s Middle America. Instead, my Judaic sculptures are created in the wake of living in a predominantly Christian culture which more or less tolerated Jews. In some cases, my sculptures are outright statements of rebellion, lashing out at inherent anti-Semitism which I felt daily from secondary school to college. STAR OF DAVID is a tall, powerful Mogen David which erupts from solid stone and stands proudly despite all the blood shed on its behalf. I would hope the viewer sees the contorted lines; the marks left by history’s persecution of the Jewish people. It is not a happy star, it is a star which has survived. It is a star once yellow, now black and bold. SHTETL is a solid rock sculpture honoring Jews who were forced to live in tiny spaces because no one wanted them around. The tall, winding rock walls protected as well as imprisioned its inhabitants. This is not a nice place to live. It is hell, in fact. But it is home, nonetheless. DANCING RABBIS is my interpretation of the joy expressed by Jews who dance in circles at various holidays and special occasions. I am told it is a beautiful piece which captures energy of the moment. Fine with me. However, the expenditure of such joy must be counter balanced by the horrific history of the Jewish people; and herein lies the irony of the piece. Perhaps the dancers should be mourning, instead. Perhaps they should be preparing for the next onslaught of hatred, rather than dancing in circles. Judaic art is a complex endeavor. Most of my sculptures are twisted and contorted, presenting the knottiness of my Jewish identity. Perhaps the viewer sees this in my works. Perhaps not.