Like a field of hot air balloons hovering before the ascent, trembling with anticipation, we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt…

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"Trembling Of Wings" by Chana Cromer

Trembling Wings

Trembling Wings, a series of nine textile works was inspired by the sentence in the Kabala: “he heard the voice of the winged creatures”. When I studied this section of the Kabala, I wondered if the voice was the winged creatures’ voices or was it the sound of their wings. And this series of works developed from that.

This phrase appears twice in the Kabala. At the Edra Raba (the great assembly) Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, after great hesitation, and then after preparation of his followers, he gathers them together around him. They become as one pillar connecting Earth to the Heavens and he reveals to them the secrets of the Kabala that until that moment were known only to him. At this moment their knees shake and “they hear the voice of the winged creatures.”

The second time is in the Zohar’s description of Aaron’s entry into the Holy of Holies, which comes after much preparation of clothes and incense and state of mind after the death of Nadav and Avihu. The whole people are gathered in concentric circles around the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. They have purified themselves. It is Yom Kippur. Aaron enters the Holy of Holies and then, “he hears the voice of the winged creatures.”

As in spiritual experience so in the struggle for freedom, much preparation is needed. Anticipation is high. The highly charged spiritual experience is a moment it seems to me of ecstasy, a moment of total release from Earthly constrictions, a merging with the Divine, that is the expression of freedom, total, unfettered.

Chana Cromer
Jerusalem, Israel

"Miriam Stood From Afar To See What Would Happen" by Natalia Aura Tova Kadish

Miriam Stood From Afar To See What Would Happen

When Miriam placed her baby brother Moshe into the basket and set him adrift amongst the reeds she didn’t know exactly what would happen, she didn’t have that level of prophecy; what she did have was emuna. She was ready to put her faith and trust in ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu and that dual act of humility before G-d and faith in the face of adversity began a process that culminated in the revelation of a more profound degree of freedom in the world with Yetzias Mitzraim and matan Torah. This painting represents freedom in the sense of Pirkei Avot (3:5) “Whoever takes upon themselves the yoke of Torah…the yoke of worldly cares are removed from them…”

Natalia Aura Tova Kadish
Teaneck, New Jersey

"Miriam's Well" by Naomi Susan Schwartz Jacobs

Miriam’s Well

True freedom flows like water: naturally and authentically without restriction. In the Midrash, the prophet Miriam is associated with producing water that nourished the Children of Israel as they travelled through the desert in their quest for inner as well as external freedom. At some Seders, a goblet of water is placed on the table to commemorate Miriam. In the painting Miriam’s Well, Miriam herself flows out from the ritual object, playing a timbrel, singing and dancing as she did in the Song of the Sea, yet another instance in which water and freedom come together. Miriam’s Well brings to mind the many contributions of Jewish women to both Jewish redemption and to the freedom of the world at large.

Naomi Susan Schwartz Jacobs
Boulder, Colorado

"And The Women Danced" by Michael Bogdanow

And The Women Danced

“And The Women Danced” was inspired by Miriam and the women who followed her after crossing the Sea. It is a musical piece, also inspired by Debbie Friedman’s beautiful “Miriam’s Song.”
Miriam was one of the great leaders in the Torah, a strong and independent woman, a prophet, singer and dancer. A blessing of her cup, “Kos Miriam,” has become part of our Passover seder and that of many others, honoring the important role of Miriam and other Jewish women in our collective history.

Beyond the Sea, the sun sets over the mountains in Egypt. The darkness of the recent past becomes a distant shadow, falling behind as the women dance toward freedom and the future. The desert itself celebrates the exodus to freedom, reminding us that while Judaism can be serious and pensive, it can also be joyous, vibrant and free. The painting is a celebration of freedom.

Michael Bogdanow
Cambridge, Massachusetts

"Gates Of Freedom" by Diana Unterspan

Gates Of Freedom

The story of Exodus continues to have relevance for all peoples of the world. One of life’s tasks is to aim towards liberation from all forms of oppression, internal and external. While the external is the easiest to see and fight against; the internal struggle to drop the fetters which keep us locked in jealousy, intolerance, grudges and anger remain the hardest battles left for humanity.

My wool and silk Haggadah shows the contrast between the broiling waters and waves leading up to what we often think are the real prizes of life- riches and power as represented by the silver nuggets with the calming flatness of the true victory: forgiveness, tzedakah and care for all humanity. Freedom brings an awesome responsibility and only when we become mindful of that responsibility to help the earth and others do we truly attain the sense of Freedom for which we all long.

Diana Unterspan
Portland, Oregon

"Passover (May Eretz Mitzrayim)" by Marlene Burns

“May Eretz Mitzrayim”

“I am the Lord, your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d.”

This is an expression of the message of Passover.
G-d took us from slavery to freedom through His prophet Moses
and the ten plagues brought upon the Egyptians.
The triangular shape of an Egyptian pyramid in the lower left corner
is juxtaposed with the copper triangular image of Mt. Sinai.
The plagues are represented as circles in the pyramid with the last plague
wending its way through the desert to the place of the revelation of Torah.
The mark of blood red washing down the canvas on the left,
represents what the Hebrew slaves were told to do to their doorposts
to protect their households in Egypt from the tenth and final plague.
With red representing G-d, the color forms the Hebrew letter shin,
the first letter of one of G-d’s names, Shaddai: G-d Almighty.
Blue represents the greatest prophet, Moses, who led the slaves
out of Egypt and through the wilderness for forty years, as well.
The primary colors of red and blue allude to the primary forces in this
Passover story that were responsible for the Israelites becoming free men.
Passover is observed in the beginning (spring) of our Hebrew calendar.
The use of spring colors not only expresses the season but also the
renewal we experience as we examine our own personal enslavements.

Marlene Burns
Tuscon, Arizona

"Israel Museum I" by Miriam Stern

Israel I and II

Israel Museum I and II are a collage and a monoprint I recently created inspired by Haggadot I saw exhibited at the Israel Museum.

In Israel Museum I, I isolated some of the figures that appeared in the manuscripts and arranged them in a cartoon like strip. I collaged small elements in each panel as well as the surrounding area. These elements are from images I have used in my art over the years.

In Israel Museum II, I rearranged pages from the illuminated Haggadot to create a new bigger volume that holds the memories of many Seders.

"Israel I" by Miriam Stern

From the Birds’ Head Haggadah to ones illustrated more realistically, artists have interpreted the meaning of freedom throughout centuries. Looking at the old manuscripts helps us remember past generations and the freedoms they fought for. As a Jewish artist living in the twenty first century it is a privilege for me to be able to use these old tomes today and create new imagery. It is a great gift that I appreciate not only on Pesach but every day.

Miriam Stern
Teaneck, New Jersey

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