CJP and the Jewish Arts Collaborative have named two local artists as fellows in the second cohort of the Community Creative Fellowship, established last year. Paloma Valenzuela of Boston, a screenwriter, director, producer and filmmaker, and Rotem Goldenberg of Cambridge, a multidisciplinary artist, puppeteer, storyteller and medical clown, will serve as fellows for the 2021-22 season. Both artists will receive $20,000 in creative arts grants to further their work bringing unique, original art to life.

CJP and JArts have worked closely over the years to support and expand the place of vibrant Jewish arts and culture in Greater Boston. As part of our ongoing partnership, CJP and JArts developed and launched the fellowship in the fall of 2020 to support Boston-area creatives as they explored Jewish identity through art and culture. Creative workers in all artistic media—visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, chefs, coders and others—were invited to apply. Paloma and Rotem were selected out of a field of 32 talented applicants.

“Building on the great success of our first fellowship team last year, we’re excited to support these two diverse and accomplished artists in exploring new work and serving as a community resource,” said Kimberlee Schumacher, CJP’s vice president of partnerships and services. “More and more people are exploring Jewish art and culture for new perspectives and approaches to their Jewish identity. We believe that the arts have a unique power to educate, excite and spread the richness of Jewish culture to all. In today’s multicultural world, art is a powerful tool to connect diverse communities.”

Laura Mandel, JArts executive director, added, “We established the fellowship to foster and support the creation of new work that reflects the artists’ own Jewish exploration, and to create dialogues that engage the broader Boston community in the artistic process. Our first fellows this past year, musician Yoni Battat and visual artist Adriana Katzew, created wonderful final works that were greatly informed by the community workshops they conducted.”

Rotem Goldenberg is a multidisciplinary artist, puppeteer and storyteller. She has performed in various festivals worldwide, and for the past decade has been working in medical clowning, providing lighthearted entertainment and accompanying children and their families to treatments and procedures via the Dream Doctors Project. She worked in Nepal, along with four other medical clowns, in the aftermath of the earthquake of 2015 in a military hospital set up by the Israeli army, as well as in other hospitals around the country. For the past four years, she has also been working as a social clown at a boarding school run by the NGO Emunah. She is a member of The Holot Theater, a group of asylum seekers and Israelis dealing with the many problems encountered by asylum seekers in Israel, and guides workshops and gives talks in Israel and around the world on puppet theater, medical clowning, the art of storytelling and social theater according to the Augusto Boal method. She holds a dual bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University in the multidisciplinary program in humanities and in theater arts (summa cum laude).

Paloma Valenzuela is a Dominican American/Jewish American writer, director and actress originally from Jamaica Plain. She is the creative director of the production operation La Palomita Productions based in Boston and the Dominican Republic. She is also the writer, producer and creator of the comedic web series “The Pineapple Diaries.” The show was featured in Latina Magazine’s “5 Web Series Every Latinx Needs to Watch Right Now.” In 2018-2019 Paloma was selected as an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Neighborhood Salon Luminary. She has also collaborated with organizations such as Urbano Project and Hyde Square Task Force and teaches screenwriting at Brandeis University.

The second stage of the fellowship starts this month and runs through June of 2022.

Rotem and Paloma will be paired with mentors throughout the course of the fellowship and are expected to work with a variety of groups—including schools, senior living facilities, synagogues, community centers and other organizations—over the course of their appointment. A core component of the fellowship will be a capstone project, which each fellow will develop based on their specialty areas and inspired by their engagement with the community.

“Arts and culture can profoundly connect us to Jewishness and to one another,” Schumacher said. “They bring us into deep and challenging conversations and illuminate and preserve Jewish experience and memory. JArts has been an outstanding catalyst for the creation of new Jewish art as well as for the presentation of the art and culture of our past. We are grateful for their leadership in bringing joy through art to so many individuals and families locally and around the world.”

Laura Mandel thanked CJP for its vision and support for the arts. “CJP has continually been recognized as one of the most forward-thinking and creative federations in the country,” she said. “And their singular recognition of the importance that arts and culture holds in our community and our lives has made them a model for others. We are proud and overjoyed to work with them on this project and in the future.”

If you are interested in having the fellows meet with your organization or group, please contact Jaime Brody at jaimeb@jartsboston.org.

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