Judaism has a rich tradition of art, craft, and sacred objects. In this series of workshops, we will explore imagery, symbolism, and technique as we look at historic and contemporary works and objects from Jewish traditions around the world. We will also consider how historic events and cultural considerations led to certain choices around these pieces.

Each session will have two parts: first, we will have a slide show of examples of various items and discuss what we see. Next, we will have the chance to try our hand at creating something meaningful of our own. The series can be attended as an ongoing class, or sessions can be stand-alone events. No previous art experience necessary. Open to everyone.

Session 1, January 26- Jewish Imagery and Symbols
Beyond the familiar Star of David and Chanukah Menorah, Judaism has many symbols that reappear throughout history. Pomegranates, lions, and Hamsas are just some of the examples we will explore. Participants will then have the chance to use basic drawing and mark making to find- or invent!- simple, meaningful symbols with personal significance.

Session 2, February 23- Jewish Household and Sacred Objects
Many significant Jewish practices occur at home. How have Jewish people infused everyday objects with sacred significance? As today’s world becomes more secular, individuals are looking to personal practices to connect with spirituality. We will begin this session looking at simple household items like Challah covers as inspiration, and then make our own meaningful treasure to help connect to what is most sacred to us.

Session 3, March 29- Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts and Illustrations
Spring is the season of Purim, and with it the gorgeous Esther Scrolls that feature incredible calligraphy and illustrations. Using various works of ink on paper as a jumping off point, we will then work on pieces combining image and text. Basic Hebrew lettering will also be explored for those interested.

Session 4, April 26- Jewish Embroidery and Textiles
Across the world and throughout history, Jews have used embroidery to embellish items and give them meaning. After taking in a wide array of images of Jewish textiles, we will do some stitching to create (or at least start!) a Challah (bread) cover.

Session 5, May 31- Jewish Paper Cutting
Come explore the incredible tradition of paper cutting. We are so lucky to have images of these delicate, intricate artworks, and we will look at many diverse examples. We will create our own paper cuttings, drawing inspiration from the Jewish practice of hanging a Mizrah- an artwork that is placed on a wall in the home towards something that has personal meaning. Traditionally, this has been Israel, but it could also be the sunrise, your home community, or the ocean, for example. The idea is to make a visual reminder to orient yourself toward something in the world that is sacred to you.

Session 6, June 28- Portable Spirit
Sadly, Jewish people are far from being the only ones who have faced persecution and systems of oppression that have forbidden the practice of their own culture. Refugees, immigrants, and colonized Indigenous cultures have all had to find ways to keep their traditions alive in secrecy. Countless generations have asked, how can we make something meaningful… and portable? In this final session, we will look at ways Jews have answered this question, and undoubtedly find answers that are familiar to other cultures. Participants will create beeswax candles and design a simple personal ritual to go along with the future candle lighting.

Amy Rubin (she/her or they/them) is an artist, counsellor, and practicing non-denominational Jewish person. She is so grateful to live in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people, in the Annapolis Valley.

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