Based on widespread community feedback and research, CJP recently created a new position: director of arts and culture. This is such an important and dynamic development for Jewish life in Greater Boston. So, let’s meet Sophie Krentzman, who is launching this new initiative.
Welcome, Sophie, and congratulations! How did your position come to be?
The position was created as a direct result of our president and CEO Marc Baker’s listening tour during his first year, and from data collected from the 2015 Greater Boston Jewish Community Study. The study highlighted how many in our community connect to the Jewish community through arts and culture. As a result, CJP has made a commitment to supporting and partnering with the Jewish arts and culture sector. As a community investor and convener, CJP will highlight the importance of Jewish arts and culture and expose more of our community to its power to connect people, to heal and to help us understand the world.
How have arts and culture been part of your life?
My connection to the arts started at birth. I grew up with a grandmother who was a concert-level pianist, a father who has an MFA in theater and a mother who is a visual artist. I trained in ballet intensely throughout my childhood and continued to study West African dance, jazz, modern, Israeli dance, hip-hop, ballroom and more through high school, college and adulthood. I have performed in plays throughout my life and, most recently, had a stint making pottery. I have also just started getting into papercutting. The arts has always given me space to connect with myself and with the world around me.
How do the arts play a role in your Jewish identity?
I have always connected deeply to Jewish song. Singing ancient melodies, especially during Shabbat services, reaches into my soul and helps me feel connected to our tradition and community. Several years ago, I was also given the chance to attend a Jewish young adult summer program that included an intensive art track. The arts complemented the Jewish learning we were doing and inspired me to develop meaningful interpretations and connections with Jewish tradition. This was a pivotal experience for me. I am thrilled to combine my Jewish identity, passion for the arts and my professional life to support such a critical Jewish connection.
CJP just launched the Community Creative Fellowship. How did that come to be?
The idea came from two main sources: a group of volunteer arts advisors thinking of ways to help the Greater Boston Jewish community better understand the importance of arts and culture and dreaming with my partners at JArts. Given their success in community arts and vast network of Jewish creatives, it made all the sense in the world to partner with JArts on this expanded project.
What do you hope the program will accomplish? What difference do you think it can make?
My hope is that the Community Creative Fellowship gives our Jewish community more exposure to arts and culture and how it influences Jewish tradition and identity. I think it can help people to explore their own Jewish identity through interaction with artists and their work. I am also excited to help emerging creatives develop in both their art-making and Jewish exploration. And, finally, my hope is that this eventually creates a cadre of amazing creatives in our community whose connection with their own Judaism, whatever that looks like for them, informs their art and in turn infuses our community with meaning, creativity and joy.
Last, but not least, what’s your favorite Jewish food?
Definitely challah. I could eat an entire loaf in one sitting, especially if it’s warm out of the oven. And especially if it’s made by my husband!
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