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Karen Walanka

AGJA President
Deerfield, IL

Profile Description

As the current president of the American Guild of Judaic Art (AGJA), I am a collector of all kinds of Judaic art, but not an artist myself.  My collection includes fine art, ritual Judaica items such as over 40 Hannukiot; 25 or more sets of candlesticks, too many dreidels to count, along with numerous Seder and Matza plates, Challah and Matza covers and “ladder” sculptures designed with a Judaic theme.

My collection began in earnest when my husband and I received 4 Hannukiot as wedding gifts.  Our collection includes Hannukiot which use candles of all shapes and sizes, or the more traditional oil. Our “ladder” collection includes paper cuts, paintings, metal or ceramic sculptures, and was inspired by “Vayetze”,  the Parsha the week we got married which includes the famous commentary about “Jacob building a ladder to heaven.”

While serving as the Executive Director of Moriah Congregation, a Conservative synagogue located in Deerfield, IL, just outside of Chicago, I conceived the All-Judaic Art & Jewelry Fair to support artists who created Judaic Art. As part of that commitment, Moriah joined the AGJA prior to our first show in 1997 and has continued that support since.

“Chaverim – AGJA Circle of Friends” is a new membership category for those who may not be artists, but rather are collectors, like me, or who may want to support those who create Judaica and art inspired by Jewish tradition, text, or our history.  If you are a collector of Judaic art and are interested in supporting artists who create this art; please click on our Chaverim link and join us.