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Beyond Bagels and Matzah ball Soup – Support for our Jewish Culture and its creative arts – Part 3

SECTION 3 OF 3 We will need to take a deep breath and start teaching our Jewish leadership- Lay, Rabbinical Educational and organizational to take a new more serious look at what we do as it surely a basic ingredient for Jewish continuity, Identity and pride…. and they all need as much help as possible! I know this coming from a rabbinical and educational family first hand. We as Jewish creators will need to roll up our sleeves even higher than in the past to start generating new life and appreciation for all that we have done and continue to do for hidur mitzvah not only for philosophical, spiritual reasons, but for very pragmatic reasons as well… such as generating extra needed revenue when marketed properly to all the community beyond their own membership. A quality Judaic art gallery can be an excellent extra teaching tool for their religious/day school teachers. A well marketed quality Judaic art gallery can enhance the profile and stature of the institution in the community, not with the exhibits, but when the guest artist lectures and presents workshops that can be covered by local cultural arts newspaper editors. Question: Do you think starting early before the holidays or using “Jewish Arts Month” would be a good time to start educating ? This would include synagogues, federations, JCCs, Jewish day schools and Jewish organizations. Avrum (Avy) Ashery 301-279-0648, Rockville, Maryland, Asherydesign@verizon.net Website: asherydesign.info

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Support for our Jewish Culture and its creative arts – Part 2

Beyond Bagels and Matzah ball Soup – Support for our Jewish Culture and its creative arts  Section 2 0f 3 parts So how do we turn this direction around to help us and our American Jewish community stimulate interest, appreciation and even love what the creative Judaic artist does to enhance and beautify the many aspects of Jewish living? All those who have experienced this present state of Jewish cultural arts frustrations need to roll up our smock sleeves and start down the road of being shlichim, emissaries, teachers, promoters, speakers wherever possible within our Jewish community institutions. We need to connect to our synagogues who don’t have Judaic art galleries (not permanent art displays that never change), to Jewish day schools who also don’t have Judaic art galleries, Jewish organizational facilities as in Federations, Hadassah, B’nai Brith, university Hillel facilities that can not only serve the need to display the latest in quality Judaic art/craft but also serve as extra needed educational tools to their Jewish studies teachers, a fine source to generate extra needed revenue  and an opportunity to invite the many Judaic creators to be guest speakers on their lecture series besides  authors and political personalities.  There will be a need to encourage our many Jewish educators to use our Judaic art as serious academic tools for learning in the same mind set as the work on Gemarah, Talmud and Jewish history. Often the Judaic arts is overlooked as an academic teaching tool in many Jewish educational institutions, except for using crayons and coloring paper. I have found that Judaic art can be very effective teaching tools to our non-Jewish friends and churches in cultivating understanding and respect, again rarely used by our leadership. In my community alone- The Washington, DC metro area (The District, Virginia and Maryland), where we have 94 congregations, 5 Jewish day schools, 3 JCCs and a few national Jewish organization facilities, I count 3 JCC art galleries with no priority for Judaic themes, 2 large congregations that do have wonderful exhibit space but don’t care to use the space for Judaic art exhibits and  one large congregation  near me who had a Judaic art gallery 6 years ago after I showed them how to set one up.  Recently,  a congregational leader called me after hearing one of my lectures on this topic, He asked me to help him convince his fine arts committee to return back to Judaic art exhibits from the secular shows they have been showing the last 4 years. He felt a known Judaic artist would convince them sooner than he, a physicist, could do. This conversation continues. Question:  Would you be will to be part of this educational outreach movement in your own community? I would think it needs to start with Jewish leadership…Rabbinical, cantorial, educational and lay to open some doors and stimulate and educational change. Avy Ashery, Rockville, Md.    301-279-0648,   Ashery design@verizon.net

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Beyond Bagels and Matzah ball Soup – Support for our Jewish Culture and its creative arts-WHERE?

SECTION ONE OF 3 PARTS Beyond Bagels and Matzah ball Soup – Support for our Jewish Culture and its creative arts -WHERE? In recent years many Judaic art creators have now experienced low art/craft sales within our American Jewish community- a very frustrating feeling as we put out our best creativity to help enhance Jewish living for our Jewish families and even non-Jewish friends, synagogues and Jewish organizations fully expecting to earn a modest living from a beautiful works in the same manner other respected professions do. In our frustration, we would do well to try and search out some of the reasons why this is happening and also find some pragmatic ways to help turn this around to the former years when Jews felt excited to own a work of Jewish content well beyond the usual shul gift shop which cause enthusiasm and pride to see and use such a Judaic piece that related to their Jewish history and ancestors as far back as 3000 years, while also relating to Jewish life today. When we notice the floor beneath our feet start to crumble, we need to lift up the floor and study the possible cause of the trouble. Observing the foundations and supports from below we might see some erosions at our base for the past 10-15 years that translates from our Jewish identity, pride, Jewish identity and other aspects of Jewish values- BUT WHY? Could it be that one main root cause of this slow erosion has been our American Jewish educational systems – the Classic Bar Mitzvah factory system most went through, but with few getting past. Most often, the system still used today produces many who were just able to read enough  Hebrew to chant their haftorah with not much more than childish Bible stories and with scant interpretation of derived values, real history and philosophy of a people, their people, who created a civilization far more advanced than many people living near them, such as those who accepted human sacrifice as a normal way of life. A day of rest, their totally new concept was introduced when all others were worked to the bone. Having this major learning deficit and not having much more continuing Jewish education with in depth understanding, thus grows a major disconnect from Jewish life, values from the most liberal/progressive to the more traditional/observant and all the in between. Yes, some manage to get through these deficiencies, but very few, as we look at our total Jewish numbers. This has been confirmed by the recent PEW report. How do I know this? Having been a Jewish educator, I have spent over 40 years in our Jewish educational system all over the U.S. observing this sad reality. At the same time I have been a professional graphic designer in media and a Judaic artist/designer. Question:  How do you feel about this issue?  Any of you had similar experiences, either positive or negative? Avy Ashery, Rockville, Md.   301-279-0648,   Asherydesign@verizon.net

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