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A Skirball Academy Class

Tobi Kahn &

Rabbinate Leah Sarna

The Barbara C. Freedman Artists’ Beit Midrash
(Winter 2024)

Color and Light

 

We are the People of the Book, and our book and its commentaries are suffused with visual enchantment, with color and light woven into stories about marriage and friendship, mentor/student relationships, mysticism — and so much more. Darkness plays a central role, captured in the Torah’s description of the primordial universe, but light is the first act of the Creator, who also gives us specifically Jewish colors.

 

Together we will examine Judaism and color, from radically different perspectives on the covenantal rainbow in the story of Noah; in the colors of Joseph’s coat; the golden pomegranate bells and the blue, crimson and purple weavings of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the desert; the light of the jeweled breastplate, the urim ve-tumim, of the High Priest; the utter blackness of Joseph’s pit and the glowing jewel that gave him hope . . .

 

As we explore, our sacred texts will come alive in all their dimensions and bring us home to love and heartbreak, blessing and loss, and the yearning to be closer to the Divine.

 

The first hour of each class will be devoted to texts chosen by Rabbinate Leah Sarna and the second to critique of student artwork inspired by the studied texts, led by Tobi Kahn, who will also meet the artists in person at least once each semester for an in-depth critique.

 

About the Course:

The Barbara C. Freedman Artists’ Beit Midrash was cofounded in 1999 by Rabbi Leon Morris and visual artist Tobi Kahn to examine the vast scope of visual interpretation through the Talmud. Its interlocutors, the rabbis, used myriad characters in stories that touch on everything from spiritual transcendence to the power of magic. We discuss these constructed narratives, examine their historical contexts, artistry and psychology, as well as their visual, literary and theological dimensions. The artists further explore these works through their own imaginations and share their creations.

 

Now in our 24th year, we have built a community of committed multidenominational artists of all ages and backgrounds. Some have never studied text while others are deeply invested in years of study. The course is co-facilitated by Tobi Kahn during all three semesters, and by Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses during the fall and spring, and by Rabbanit Leah Sarna during the winter.

Mondays, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
January 15, 22, 29, February 5, 12, 19

$180, $120 Temple Emanu-El members
Free for Friends of Streicker 

OFFERED VIRTUALLY

 

Skirball Academy General Information

 

Sponsored by: Nancy, David and Jonathan Goldhill in memory of their mother, Barbara C. Freedman

Tobi Kahn is an internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor whose collaborative work blends modern art with spirituality. It has been shown in over 70 solo museum exhibitions. His work can be found in major museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Phillips Collection; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and The Jewish Museum among others. Kahn also communicates his passion for teaching. Cofounder of Avoda Arts, he has taught at the School of Visual Arts since 1985. Kahn lectures extensively at universities and public forums internationally.

Rabbanit Leah Sarna is the Associate Director of Education and Director of High School Programs at Drisha. She previously served as Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, a leading urban Orthodox congregation. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2018, holds a BA from Yale University in Philosophy & Psychology, and also trained at the SKA Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, Drisha and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership.

Rabbanit Sarna’s published works have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Lehrhaus and the Jewish Review of Books. She has lectured in Jewish communal settings around the world and loves spreading her warm, energetic love for Torah and Mitzvot with Jews in all stages of life.

Mondays, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
January 15, 22, 29, February 5, 12, 19

$180, $120 Temple Emanu-El members
Free for Friends of Streicker 

Color and Light

 

We are the People of the Book, and our book and its commentaries are suffused with visual enchantment, with color and light woven into stories about marriage and friendship, mentor/student relationships, mysticism — and so much more. Darkness plays a central role, captured in the Torah’s description of the primordial universe, but light is the first act of the Creator, who also gives us specifically Jewish colors.

 

Together we will examine Judaism and color, from radically different perspectives on the covenantal rainbow in the story of Noah; in the colors of Joseph’s coat; the golden pomegranate bells and the blue, crimson and purple weavings of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the desert; the light of the jeweled breastplate, the urim ve-tumim, of the High Priest; the utter blackness of Joseph’s pit and the glowing jewel that gave him hope . . .

 

As we explore, our sacred texts will come alive in all their dimensions and bring us home to love and heartbreak, blessing and loss, and the yearning to be closer to the Divine.

 

The first hour of each class will be devoted to texts chosen by Rabbinate Leah Sarna and the second to critique of student artwork inspired by the studied texts, led by Tobi Kahn, who will also meet the artists in person at least once each semester for an in-depth critique.

 

About the Course:

The Barbara C. Freedman Artists’ Beit Midrash was cofounded in 1999 by Rabbi Leon Morris and visual artist Tobi Kahn to examine the vast scope of visual interpretation through the Talmud. Its interlocutors, the rabbis, used myriad characters in stories that touch on everything from spiritual transcendence to the power of magic. We discuss these constructed narratives, examine their historical contexts, artistry and psychology, as well as their visual, literary and theological dimensions. The artists further explore these works through their own imaginations and share their creations.

 

Now in our 24th year, we have built a community of committed multidenominational artists of all ages and backgrounds. Some have never studied text while others are deeply invested in years of study. The course is co-facilitated by Tobi Kahn during all three semesters, and by Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses during the fall and spring, and by Rabbanit Leah Sarna during the winter.

OFFERED VIRTUALLY

 

Skirball Academy General Information

 

Sponsored by: Nancy, David and Jonathan Goldhill in memory of their mother, Barbara C. Freedman

Tobi Kahn is an internationally acclaimed painter and sculptor whose collaborative work blends modern art with spirituality. It has been shown in over 70 solo museum exhibitions. His work can be found in major museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Phillips Collection; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and The Jewish Museum among others. Kahn also communicates his passion for teaching. Cofounder of Avoda Arts, he has taught at the School of Visual Arts since 1985. Kahn lectures extensively at universities and public forums internationally.

Rabbanit Leah Sarna is the Associate Director of Education and Director of High School Programs at Drisha. She previously served as Director of Religious Engagement at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago, a leading urban Orthodox congregation. She was ordained at Yeshivat Maharat in 2018, holds a BA from Yale University in Philosophy & Psychology, and also trained at the SKA Beit Midrash for Women at Migdal Oz, Drisha and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership.

Rabbanit Sarna’s published works have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Lehrhaus and the Jewish Review of Books. She has lectured in Jewish communal settings around the world and loves spreading her warm, energetic love for Torah and Mitzvot with Jews in all stages of life.

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