Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and the Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts) have named two local artists as fellows in the third cohort of the Community Creative Fellowship, established in 2020. Ira Klein of Cambridge, a musician, composer and teacher, and Rachel Linsky of Boston, a dancer, educator and choreographer, will serve as fellows for the 2022-23 season. Each artist will receive $20,000 in creative arts grants to bring new work to life with a focus on connecting and inspiring communities through the process.
CJP and JArts have worked closely over the years to expand the reach of vibrant Jewish arts and culture in Greater Boston. As part of their ongoing partnership, CJP and JArts developed and launched the fellowship in the fall of 2020 to support Boston-area creatives as they explore Jewish identity and connect with various communities through workshops. Creatives in all artistic media—visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, chefs and others—were invited to apply. Klein and Linsky were selected out of a field of 30 applicants.
“Building on the great success of our first two fellowship cohorts, we’re excited to support Rachel and Ira, two accomplished artists who will explore new work and serve as a community resource,” said Sophie Krentzman, CJP’s director of arts and culture. “As more people explore Jewish art and culture for new perspectives, we believe that the arts have a unique ability to educate, excite and spread the richness of Jewish culture to all. In today’s multi-cultural 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 and expands the appreciation of Jewish culture. All our previous fellows created wonderful final works that were greatly informed by the community workshops they conducted.”
Rachel Linsky is a Boston-based contemporary dance artist. She holds a B.F.A. in dance performance and choreography and a B.A. in arts administration from Elon University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Rachel directs and choreographs “ZACHOR,” an ongoing project series that seeks to preserve the words of WWII Holocaust survivors through dance.
Rachel’s choreography has been presented in national and international dance festivals such as Earl Mosely’s Diversity of Dance “Dance is Activism Film Festival,” Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Prague International Film Festival and many more. Her work has been awarded funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts, The City of Boston, The Russell J. Efros Foundation, CJP and The Beker Foundation. Rachel has been an artist-in-residence at the Boston Center for the Arts through their new Dance Maker’s Laboratory Program, and at Chelsea Theatre Works.
Rachel was recently commissioned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and JArts to choreograph a new work for their 2021 Hanukkah celebration. Rachel is currently a dancer with KAIROS Dance Theater and The Click Boston. She is on the teaching faculty at Koltun Ballet Boston, Broadway Bound Dance Center and Urbanity Dance.
Ira Klein is an award-winning guitarist, composer and producer from Jerusalem, Israel, and is currently based in Boston. He aspires to create deeply rooted, fresh and idiosyncratic contemporary music. Inspired by his fascination with several folk music traditions (predominantly Ladino and American roots music), as well as his background in jazz and rock, he takes a melting-pot musical approach to create his sound. He believes that when ancient songs meet a modern interpretive approach, the creative possibilities are boundless.
He teaches at the Berklee College of Music, the Cambridge Music Consortium, the Club Passim School of Music and the Concord Conservatory of Music. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of music in 2020 from Berklee, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Longy Conservatory of Bard College in Cambridge. He has performed widely, including local performances at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MIT’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University’s Smith Center and Holden Chapel, Boston University Hillel, the Longfellow House Museum and Mount Auburn Cemetery.
The fellowship begins this month and runs through May 2023. Both artists 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,” Krentzman said. “They bring us into deep and challenging conversations and illuminate and preserve Jewish experience and memory. Enabling artists to more deeply explore their own creative process and produce new work also helps expand and share Jewish culture with the broader community.”
Musician Yoni Battat, a 2020-2021 creative fellow, has just released his debut album, “Fragments,” created during his fellowship. The work is based on his uncovering of his family background as a Middle Eastern Jew and is informed greatly by the workshops he held over the course of a year. Workshop participants helped explore the themes of his music and are included as a chorus in parts of the recording. Battat wrote: “Through the Community Creative Fellowship…the Boston Jewish community has prioritized the creative arts as a vital avenue for connection to our Jewish identities. I know this investment will continue to expand modern Jewish expression to be more inclusive, rich and diverse.”
If you are interested in having the fellows meet with your organization or group, please contact Jaime Brody, JArts collaborations director, at email@example.com.