by Rabbi Jill Maderer
What kinds of questions can Jewish art challenge us to face? This week’s new RS Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art (PMJA) show inspires its curator, Matt Singer, to ask: When, how and where did Judaism begin? When Abraham and Sarah entered a covenant with God and departed for the Promised Land? When Moses and his people—the descendents of Abraham, refugee slaves wandering in the desert—received the Torah at Mount Sinai?
This Friday evening, all of us have the opportunity to ask the artist what she thinks about such foundational questions of the Jewish people. Zoë Cohen, artist of the PMJA’s new show “What Was Our Vision: Sixteen Scenes from Wandering in the Desert” will visit RS this Friday, July 17, for our 6:00pm service (pre-oneg reception begins 5:30pm).
In Cohen’s series of 16 mixed-media works, “What Was Our Vision” she explores the belief systems of the Ancient Near East. Searching for meaningful connections to the history of Judaism, Cohen imagines what visions our ancient ancestors may have had as they traveled desert landscapes as nomads and cultural go-betweens.
Please join the community for Shabbat this week, or find the chance to experience the new exhibit. As you do, I hope you will share your own impressions of the artwork and the questions it challenges you to ask about Judaism!