We live in a time when News brings immediate and unrelenting attention to difficult problems. Approaching these problems requires information but solving them –something more…something like resourcefulness, discernment, creativity and imagination. It is therefore not surprising that today the word imagination is ubiquitous, commanding its power in places as diverse as names of schools and selling advertisements, and also in The Museum of ImaJewnation.

The idea for the museum arose from three sources. One, in a book called the “Yiddishe Kop – Creative Problem Solving in Jewish Learning, Lore & Humor”, author Rabbi Nilton Bonder suggests that “ Jews have had a critical mass of experience that has taught them that impossibilities are transient.” This empowering observation was expressed again when Larry King asked “Are you an optimist?” and Jon Stewart answered, “I’m Jewish.” The second, from a lecture presented at a conference called Creativity and Madness which suggested that artists and scientists tackle the same questions, often with the artist preceding the scientist , expressing the ideas not yet formulated into words. In the book “Art and Physics, Parallel Visions in Space, Time and & Light”, author Leonard Shlain writes, “…Imagine literally means to make an image…art can be understood as the proverbial stage of a civilization first contending with a major change in its perception of the world (page 18). The third, an understanding that the wisdom of Judaism lies in its constant conversation…and all the ideas noted and preserved. The Museum seeks to create exhibits of this ongoing conversation.

The ambition of this museum is to engage people’s imagination and encourage their interaction with Jewish culture- its ritual objects and behaviors, its texts and stories, its history and legends, its chants and music, its commandments and customs. The mission of the museum is to encourage people to respond to challenging questions by creating artworks using an element of Jewish culture as the source of inspiration.

Naomi Fishman
Founder and Curator