Walking The Work

And tonight we put our work all around the room before it was hung.  We walked and walked around…and studied each other’s pieces.   So amazing to hear us say to each other “Tell me about this”. — and “This is my grandfather.” And “This is my story…”.   “It’s very emotional.”IMG_1189

AND שדךלחןקןחףךחןןממקלגלגלגלדץקןיישמשמגןגמששרירך״”    (Words spoken in Hebrew which I did not understand but where nevertheless heartfelt.)

Eve took pictures (they are posted here).      I heard some singing.    I heard “Do you have any more of your Zines”?     I heard “Megan is here and we have been waiting for her and all of this!”.IMG_1192

“This is gorgeous!”  “Do you need help with anything?”  “This is so nerve-wracking!”

“Wow, just wow.”  “We finally have a minyan!”IMG_1172

“Well, she made it”.   “It was like my Grandma.”   “The other paper I used was much more transparent”.   “I am still compiling, it is a process”.     “Oh, it’s Eva!  She is beautiful”.   “This is — like — so HOLY”.

IMG_1185“It was wet”.  “Oh, you painted it?”  “So, it was also performance”.   “It’s a photo of the painted work”.   “I love gesso”.     “It’s instant texture-pattern”.    “It like so familiar”.   (But not too familiar)    “It’s like the signs in Israel”.    “Leading community and all that”.     “I have been so jealous ever since you said that”.   “I have been thinking about that.   That is SO interesting.”    “Your piece makes me breathe better.”    “You painted in my palette!”

“That’s so great!”

“I came across the drawing you did on Chanukah”.


It is the Inside coming to the Outside.   What was and has been inside all of us is now being revealed.      We are subtending the boundaries of ourselves — of our imaginations and bringing our work into common reality.   What was concealed is now revealed.    We are finally unmasked.

Come see the show — opening SUNDAY, APRIL 30th, 3:00-5:00 PM at UW Hillel, 611 Langdon Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703.




Vos macht a yid?

And so, it seems that we struggle with Jewish identity.   Like — who is a Jew?  “Vos macht a yid”….what makes a Jew?   And once you are a Jew….are you really anything else?

It used to be that Jews greeted each other with this phrase:  Vos Macht a Yid? –another way of saying “hey, how’s it going?”.   Or…the Jew is Me is Greeting the Jew in You.


This evening we explored Jewish Identity as Essential/Ontological.   In the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 44a, R. Abba ben Zabda says:  Even though [the people] have sinned, they are still [called] Israel.  R. Abba said:  Thus people say, a myrtle, though it stands among reeds, is still a myrtle, and so it is called.img_1661

This of course provides many conversations…that a Myrtle which wishes to be a Reed — wants to secularize into the Reed Community, will always be seen as a Myrtle by the other Reeds. (think “Ugly Duckling” story)   No matter how much we polish our Reed-ness, we still look and act like a Myrtle to the other Reeds — and also to the other Myrtles.  We cannot change our basic essence — and as is written in the Sanhedrin above, Judaism/Jewishness is part of our Essence.img_1660

You can take on Buddhism — and you are a Jewish Buddhist — a JewBu.   You accept Jesus as the Mashiach and you are called a Jew for Jesus.   The Jew In You cannot be extricated from your being.  Even if you are exiled, you are The Jew in Exile.

Daniel Boyarin, a UC Berkeley talmudist. in his book “A Radical Jew” (University of California Press, 1994) has written “Jews in general feel not that Jewishness is something they have freely chosen but rather that it is an essence — an essence often nearly empty of any content other than itself — which has been ascribed — sometimes even imposed — on them by birth.”img_1659

This falls under the category of the UnNameable, the Unknowable, Shakespeare’s Hamlet saying “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy”.

But as Jews I think we are accustomed to the idea that something is just beyond our reach, just beyond our touch, beyond our understanding…and perhaps that Divine UnKnowable spark within makes us a Jew.

Or as I have written previously HERE:  “And when we know this part of ourselves, our Divine spark, the for us, every bush, every bush is a burning one.”

So, Vos Macht a Yid?   Is it that UnKnowable Essence?  Is it kindness and awareness of social injustice and connection and risk-taking?  Well, many think that in the world of art, that may be the Jewish calling card — if there is such a thing.

Robert Frank, a 1950’s photographer from Switzerland, came to this country and began to take a series of photographs, grainy in quality, with his Leica camera.  Here are a few examples of his work…you can feel, in the pieces, the social commentary, the feeling.   The pieces are evocative, provocative…and all at once gentle.  In this group of photos…there are many commentaries which can be described on who is inside and who is outside…socially, spatially and emotionally in the photographs.

Take a look below!

Trolley Car:  New Orleans, Robert Frank
Black Lady & White Baby, Robert Frank

And, as a final note, Lenny Bruce on who and what is Jewish and who and what is Goyish.

Enjoy:  Lenny Bruce: Jewish and Goyish

N.Y.C Lower East Side Puerto Ricans, Robert Frank, 1954
Elevator Girl:  Miami, Robert Frank 1954