In beit midrash – the House of Inquiry –
we know we are not only studying texts,
but rather through the medium of textual inquiry we are weaving relationships –
between ourselves and our learning partner, ourselves and the voices of ancestors,
ourselves with the many parts of who we each are, and, always,
ourselves and something bigger.
And when we take paint brush to canvas or pen to page,
letting color flow or words spill out, opening to the surprise of what will come,
we are building a relationship as well –
A relationship to our own soul, to our wildness, to our intuition and imagination,
and to the Creative Source that is always ready, willing, waiting
to flow to us and through us whenever we allow.
So, too, this training has been a relational process.
Just as you’ve been changed by encounters with text
and with the depths of our own creative wellspring,
you have been transformed through your relationships to one another –
and we have been transformed through this experience of teaching, learning, and growing with you.
—Rabbi Adina Allen ’14, opening remarks from The Jewish Studio Project’s December Siyyum
In early December, Hebrew College alumna Rabbi Adina Allen offered siyyum (concluding celebration) blessings to the 11 inaugural Jewish Studio Project fellows from around the country who completed a two-year journey in JSP’s Creative Facilitator Training program. The program is an intensive immersion in which participants experience, learn and practice the Jewish Studio Process, strengthening their teaching and empowering them to lead creative programming in their home communities and organizations. “We’re really excited about the ways that the Jewish Studio Process is being taken out into the world through their work,” said Rabbi Allen, who founded Jewish Studio Project with her husband, Jeff Kasowitz.
The fellows, now JSP facilitators, include spiritual directors, Jewish professionals and rabbis from around the country, among others. They met in person (pre-pandemic) and on Zoom, and completed a practicum in their own communities, in which they facilitated individual programs based on their areas of interest and expertise. These included programs for social justice activists, Jewish clergy across the denominational spectrum, spiritual directors, queer folx engaged in recovery programs, Jewish artists, interfaith groups and employees in a corporate setting. Below are the some of the projects:
Creativity Healing Circle
A marketing professional designed Creativity Healing Circle and Parsha-ART workshops, bringing together members of her Los Angeles community, Jewish Studio Project alumni, friends, family and the public to experience a new way to connect with self and others, and to spark creativity.
Virtual Art Beit Midrash
An assistant rabbi, beit midrash director, independent soferet (scribe), Hebrew calligrapher and ceramicist in Philadelphia created a twice-weekly virtual art beit midrash bringing together Jewish artists to enhance their creative process and deepen reflection while building and sustaining community.
Corporate Sacred Spaces
A new mom, wife, storyteller and technology professional in San Francisco brought together employees from multiple teams at Google to infuse creativity, spirituality and self-expression in a corporate setting and explore the creation of temporary sacred spaces among strangers.
Long-Term Recovery in the Queer Community
A facilitator and care worker in Washington brought together queer people in recovery programs to explore how the Jewish Studio Process could support those who are engaged in long-term recovery work.
A Reconstructionist rabbi brought together Jewish clergy from across the country and denominational spectrum to explore the power of creativity as a source of renewal after an incredibly taxing High Holiday season and the ways in which the Jewish Studio Process could foster spaces for clergy to nourish their own souls so they can best serve others.
A Unitarian Universalist community minister and educator, coach, teacher and ritual artist who works with folks who seek spiritual peace, purpose and connection through the arts brought together “spiritual but not religious” and interfaith participants, including religious professionals serving congregations, for a “Thanks/Grieving Week Virtual Retreat” to tap into the power of art-making for personal and professional renewal amidst the challenges of pandemic times.
Movement Building & Art: An Exploration
A Brooklyn artist and educator organized “Movement Building & Art: An Exploration,” which brought together Brooklyn-based Jewish artists and cultural workers committed to social justice to explore the role of creative process in movement building and asked how the Jewish Studio Process might be used to build a visual strategy/campaign for a policy or bill, and what it means to do art with integrity for rapid response organizing.
Psalms and Interfaith Learning
An artist, illustrator and mystic brought together an interfaith group of family and friends to explore Psalms and the healing power of the Jewish Studio Process in an interfaith context.
Young Adult Art Lab
A self-described “learning nerd who is passionate about designing effective ways to solve people’s problems” facilitated the Orchard Art Lab, which brought together young adults from a community in Los Altos, CA, to explore the topic of teshuva (repentance/reflection) in preparation for the High Holidays.
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