Husband and wife, artist and rabbi merge art, pop culture, and scholarship

by | Jan 20, 2022 | What’s Happening

Tidewater Together with Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik
All events online

Friday, February 4: Shabbat sermon
Ohef Sholom Temple, 6:30 pm, Free,

Saturday, February 5: Shabbat sermon
Congregation Beth El, 9:45 am; Free,

Saturday, February 5, Havdalah Gallery Talk
Simon Family JCC, 7:30 pm; Free, pre-register


Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik spend a lot of time talking about Judaism, comic books, and art. As a dynamic duo, this married couple has masterfully found a way to share their passions with others.

In February, the Tidewater community will have several opportunities to be recipients of the Brynjegard-Bialiks’ passion through online sermons and other conversations led by them.

The couple’s virtual visit is part of the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund of the Congregation Beth El Foundation’s Tidewater Together Series. The weekend kicks off with three Shabbat programs in partnership with local synagogues.

The pair will lead a visual sermon, accompanied by their “Paper T’filah,” through Ohef Sholom Temple’s livestream service on Friday, February 4. On Saturday, February 5, they’ll join Congregation Beth El’s livestream service to lead a sermon in their distinct conversational style. Later that evening, an online art-filled Havdalah Gallery Talk hosted by Temple Israel and Kehillat Bet Hamidrash takes place. Havdalah will be followed by a virtual walk through of Isaac’s current exhibit in the Leon Family Gallery, YOU DID WHAT TO MY COMICS?!?!

All three of these events are free and open to the community. Pre-registration is required for the Havdalah Gallery Talk on Saturday evening (link to register can be found below).

Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik’s exhibit of cut-up and reassembled comic books explores the stories of the Jewish people, connecting popular culture with sacred texts. He has shown his papercuts in galleries across the globe and has commissions in museums, synagogues, hospitals, and private collections. He regularly speaks and writes about the intersection of art and Judaism.

Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik adapts traditional Jewish concepts to a modern context and brings that synergy to students. She is an engaging teacher of Torah, bringing text to life with her unique, modern perspective. She received a Master of Hebrew Letters in 1998 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, was ordained in 2002 in HUC-JIR’s first Los Angeles class, and served as associate rabbi at Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California.

The couple combines deep Jewish scholarship with a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional art of papercutting, providing workshop participants with the opportunity and tools to make visual biblical commentary—what they call “paper midrash.”

The community looks forward to hosting the couple later this year when workshops may take place, offering participants opportunities to create unique pieces of Jewish art. The workshops are presented by the Konikoff Center for Learning. No experience or “artistic ability” is necessary. All materials are provided. Adults (and teens over 16) are welcome. Look for more information in the coming months.

For more information and to stay up-to-date with the latest plans for Paper Midrash, visit or contact Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation at or by calling 757-965-6107.

-Sierra Lautman