Dynamic duo packs a Jewish punch in Tidewater

by | Aug 11, 2022 | Other News

Rabbi Shawna works with Alene Kaufman on her piece of art.

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik visited Tidewater for three days last month through the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund of the Congregation Beth El Foundation’s Tidewater Together Series. This in-person series was a follow-up to the variety of programs that they led online in February—guest sermons, a gallery talk, and paper-cutting Torah workshops with synagogue religious schools.

The dynamic duo kicked off their time in Tidewater with a “Text Study with Knives,” a hands-on papercutting workshop. Participants studied some midrash (stories about the Torah’s content) about Parashat Balak and were then guided through the creation of art inspired by the parasha (Torah portion).

“Learning about the parasha with Rabbi Shawna and then illustrating it through Isaac’s unique art process brought a different lens to Torah study,” says Alene Kaufman, chair of the Jewish Innovation steering committee at United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and first vice chair of Kehillat Bet Hamidrash synagogue. “Judaism has a tradition of ‘hiddur mitzvah’—which usually refers to beautifying a ritual object. This is the first time that I felt I was artistically beautifying the words of Torah!”

During the following week, the pair joined Camp JCC campers for two packed days of interactive, hands-on learning. Rising first and second graders used their fingerprints to paint four vibrant banners that represent the four species of the Lulav. These banners will be on display in the Leon Family Gallery before finding their autumn home in the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus Sukkah.

Rising third through fifth graders each had the chance to paint one canvas in varying shades of blue, green, orange, and yellow. When these 48 canvases come together, they create a larger-than-life mosaic that represents the Jordan river and the 12 Tribes of Israel. This mosaic will be on display in the Leon Family Gallery later this month.

Rising sixth through eighth graders were joined by campers from Sababa Beach Away for an evening of Shalom Ahava (peace and love) Jewish spray painting. After designing their own inspirational stencils, the campers used spray chalk to make their mark on the floor of the Marty Einhorn pavilion.

Even Camp JCC’s Counselors in Training got in on the fun, taking part in a leadership workshop that culminated in a “Make Your Own Golem” papercutting experience.

To learn more about these programs, or others like it, visit JewishVA.org/KCL or contact Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation at United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, at 757-965-6107 or SLautman@UJFT.org.

Sierra Lautman