Art and Culture and Jewish Resilience

Gordon Haber

The CANVAS Compendium: Dispatches from the New Jewish Renaissance

You must praise the mutilated world.

Adam Zagajewski

Next week is Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av, when we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It’s a solemn day, for obvious reasons, observed by fasting and readings from Lamentations.

And yet, Tisha B’Av, like all Jewish holidays, presents an opportunity. While we memorialize the many historical shocks of Jewish history, we can also celebrate Jewish resilience.  

I’m continually struck by how the organizations that CANVAS supports inhabit this resilience. These Jewish arts and culture networks and media outlets are helping a new generation of artists and writers preserve and reimagine Judaism. They’re fostering an explosion of creativity that examines the past while exploring the present and future. 

With that in mind, here are some of the fantastic offerings from CANVAS grantees taking place in the coming weeks. If you do partake, let us know if on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Wishing an easy fast to those who observe, and joyful summer for all. —Ed.

CANVAS Network Grantees

AJT is an international network of Jewish theatres and theatre artists supporting each other through information-sharing, conferences, and virtual programs. This summer, AJT members can participate in the Macher Lab, monthly sessions exploring works-in-progress with readings and moderated feedback.

  • 7/30 and 8/27 @ 4pm ET on Zoom. More info here.
  • Read about AJT in the Compendium here.

Based out of Brooklyn’s community and cultural center the Neighborhood, Asylum Arts works to bring exposure and opportunities to its global network of Jewish artists. This summer, they’re highlighting Annie Albagli: We Become [Vessels] at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum (until 1/28/24). Albagli is an Asylum Arts alum; We Become [Vessels] draws on Jewish tradition and ritual in response to isolation and the desire for human connection. 

  • More info and tickets here.
  • Read about Asylum Arts in the Compendium here.

CAJM logo

CAJM is an association of institutions and museum professionals committed to enhancing the value of Jewish museums for their communities. CAJM is currently preparing for a 2024 summit about museums responding to and opposing antisemitism as part of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. Around the country, CAJM member museums are showing new exhibitions and programs of interest: 

JAS is an organization of international artists and scholars advancing contemporary Jewish visual art. Its online exhibition, Art in Jewish Sacred Spaces, is a fascinating introduction to their work.

  • Read an interview with JAS members here.
  • Read about JAS in the Compendium here.

JPP identifies, develops, and presents new works of Jewish theatre via its renowned Jewish Playwriting Contest. Bess Welden’s Madeleines, which won last year’s contest, will be featured in the Theaterworks’s 20th New Works Festival in Palo Alto, CA.

  • 8/17 @ 7pm PT and 8/20 @ 3pm PT. More info and tickets here
  • Read about JPP in the Compendium here.

The Jewish Studio Project explores the power of art-making for personal and collective renewal with “Have You Made It About Art Yet? Tisha B’Av edition.” During this 90-minute, virtual session with Rabbi Adina Allen, participants will process grief and sadness through creativity, with the goal of re-emergence and renewal. 

  • 7/20 @ 9-10:30am PT on Zoom. Register here.
  • Read about JSP in the Compendium here.

Kultura Collective celebrates and amplifies Jewish culture throughout Toronto. This summer, Ashkenaz Festival and Magen Boys Entertainment are teaming up for the Summer Jam Concert Series, bringing downtown music festival vibes to North Toronto.

  • 7/31 and 8/14 @ 7pm ET. Info and tickets here.
  • Read about Kultura Collective in the Compendium here.

Applications are open! The NJCF is an artist-driven fellowship where creativity and Jewish learning meet. Each fellow receives a $1,000 stipend to support creative work and the opportunity to propose supported/paid events, workshops, or classes (virtual or in-person). 

  • Applications close 8/7 @ 11:59pm EST. More info and application here.
  • Read about NJCF in the Compendium here.

Reboot is an arts and culture non-profit that reimagines and reinforces Jewish ideas and traditions through its preeminent network of creators, artists, entrepreneurs and activists. This summer Reboot Studio presents The Anne Frank Gift Shop, a darkly comic short film about rebranding the gift shop at the Anne Frank House. 

  • 7/25 @ 7:45p PT at the LA Shorts Festival. Info and tickets here.
  • 7/28 @ 5:30p PT at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Info and tickets here.
  • Read an interview with the writer-director in GQ here.

Rising Song cultivates Jewish spiritual life through singing. Among its many summer events, Rising Song will present RAZA in concert to celebrate the release of its heart-opening, prayerful album, Kapelya. The album was produced by Rising Song Institute’s Joey Weisenberg and released by Rising Song records. 

  • 8/10 @ 7pm ET at the Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan. Tickets here
  • See video of RAZA performing here.
  • Read about Rising Song in the Compendium here.

CANVAS Media Grantees

Hey Alma is on fire lately, with Jewish angles on the Barbie movie and the SAG-AFTRA strike, and a fun list of 18 songs by Jewish artists.

On October 27, 2019—shabbat—a lone gunman entered Pittburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and slaughtered 11 Jews at prayer. The artist Dennis Eisenberg, aka DenBerg, honors their lives in Portraits: Tree of Life, a moving commemorative sketchbook for the Forward

This lively, intelligent art site continues its thoughtful coverage of Jewish themes with articles on a hopeful mural in LA, Lithuanian photographer Jonas Kulikauskas, and trans artist and singer Tobaron Waxman

Also… CANVAS grantee networks Jewish Book CouncilLABA, and the Workshop are working on their fall offerings. We invite you to visit their websites and learn about the artists and writers they support. Or read about JBC in the Compendium here and here, and LABA here, and the Workshop here and here

One final suggestion… The Borscht Belt Fest in Ellenville, NY. Created by the Catskills Borscht Belt Museum, the festival pays homage to the Borscht Belt and its wide-ranging influence on American culture. The day-long festival features comedy, art, music, and (of course) food.

  • 7/29 starting @10:30am ET. More info and tickets here.

Featured image: Annie AlbagliWe Become [Vessels], video still, 2021.

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