In the beginning we read that G-d blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because on that day G-d ceased from all the work G-d had done. And then began the work of Man, who was created in the image of G-d… Man created Drama.
Human emotions, once created, never disappear but coexist in the surrounding space, similar to quantum of the sunlight. They coexist in the World – mirroring into, reflecting on and, finally, meeting all the other energies of our world at the crossroads of the Universe,
They merge to begin a new future World. They are adding a quality of Humanity to the Universe. The nobler, the purer the emotions, the better the future Worlds will be.
In the beginning there are troubled faces.
A “Perfect” World
The illustrated Challah cover on display was inspired by a book called Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life by Irwin Kula. He explains,
“We so often feel conflicted, stuck between opposing positions. This can be unnerving, even frightening. How can we contain the anxiety and confusion? The sages remind us that the more expansive and profound truths lie within every conflict awaiting our discovery. When we meet a paradox, we have the hope of making progress in discovering the truth.” (6)
F. Scott Fitzgerald describes a similar phenomenon in these words,
“the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
In this project, the call to artists asks for the Challah cover to deal with the inherent hurts and struggles in the world. The Midrash asserts that we must cover the Challah on Shabbat and Festivals so its feelings will not be hurt by being blessed second to the wine. How does this action teach us to address the pains in the world? As I contemplate the many forces in both the physical world and the interpersonal and intra-psychic worlds we inhabit, I recognize the many contradictions, rivalries, and dissonances. In my pictorial rendition of my “perfect world” I want to acknowledge the gamut of experiences, the emptiness, the hurts, the brokenness, chaos, friction, and doubt while simultaneously allowing for the coexistence of the wholeness, love, and expansiveness. Only if we can learn to live harmoniously with both opposing forces, can we function more fully and begin to discover our own truths. If we can embrace the dichotomies and paradoxes such as expressed in the concepts in Kula’s book of “holy dysfunction,” “sacred skepticism,” and “sacred messiness,” perhaps then we can navigate the chaos and hurts more productively and with greater sensitivity.
In Genesis 37:1-11 a ceremonial robe was given to Joseph by his father Jacob. In the eyes of Joseph’s brothers the robe turned into a much reviled symbol of parental favor bestowed excessively by Jacob on Joseph. Ultimately the robe is returned blood soaked to Jacob by Joseph’s brothers as a proof that Joseph had been ravaged by a savage beast. Rather than murder Joseph in a jealous rage, his brothers secretly had sold Joseph to Egyptian traders and were left with nothing to do but deceive their father about Joseph’s fate by dipping Joseph’s ceremonial robe in the blood of a slaughtered animal. Jacob recognized the robe and mourned for Joseph for many days with an inconsolable grief. (Genesis 37:12-35.)
By creating the image of Joseph’s coat on my challah cover, a Jewish symbol of thoughtfulness and sensitivity since is used to cover the challah bread that is blessed second after the wine at the Sabbath and Holiday tables, the coat has been transformed from a symbol of familial discord into one of familial unity. The Jewish Sabbath and Holiday tables have been gathering places for families and communities for millennia. Breaking challah bread together after it is revealed from under the ceremonial challah cover, signals the official beginning of Jewish festive meals. Just as the Biblical account of Joseph and his brothers ends with reconciliation, the hope for peace and unity in the universe, despite great odds must always remain alive in the Jewish spirit.
This challah cover is created using a jigsaw quilt pattern using bold contrasting fabrics on one side and different textures and shades of white on the other. The words Shabbot Shalom are made with the bold, contrasting fabrics and sewn on the side with white fabrics.
This challah cover depicts the tensions of biblical characters in the founding stories of the Torah and the white side hints at those tensions, but imagines a peaceful world. The challenge of peace is presented with conviction by the words Shabbot Shalom in the bold contrasting fabrics.
This project was a collaborative effort by the chevruta pair,
Sunny Brodsky and Naomi Fishman
The Painted Bird
This pastel on paper drawing shows Joseph and the effect he had on his brothers. The Talmud chides Jacob for favoring Joseph and concludes that “on account of two ounces of wool that Jacob gave Joseph (for a special coat)… Joseph’s brothers became jealous of him, which eventually resulted in our ancestors descent into Egypt.”* Unrecognized instinctual human feelings can have unintended consequences. The painted bird is a reference to Jerzy Kosinski’s book, The Painted Bird, in which a bird that was painted red was torn to pieces in flight by his flock.
*page 133, Creating Lively Passover Seders by David Arnow (BT ,Shabbat 10b)
This challah cover considers the tensions that can arise when one is both American and Jewish. Where is your homeland? Your home? Who are “your people?” Through this handmade art piece, I hope to say that through our creativity and humanity, we can heal all inevitable hurts that we encounter.