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