By Jennifer Levine
Jewish Arts Residency comes to Harlam!
Jennifer Levine, Jewish educator and visual artist from Montclair, NJ facilitated 5 days of creativity and painting fun. 4 of the 5 murals are based on camp’s middot.
For the four murals based on middot, Levine sketched out the blue print of the murals. She says, “Since I knew they are going to be hung as a group, my design consisted of two black and white ones, and two red and yellow ones. I know some kids love to paint in big blocks of color and some love to do details work, so there were options. I kept the black and white one big and bold with strong graphics. The Red and yellow ones have detail from the children. It’s great because at a distance, they will pull you in, but also will be fun to look at up close. Levine says, “Painting a middah is a form of Hiddur Mitzvah (making ritual objects beautiful) – but rather than a ritual object, it’s a value we are deepening our connection to.”
For the 5th mural, she worked with Chavurah but did not lend a hand – giving the teens tools to develop an idea, create a design, draft the blueprint, pick the text and paint – while forming consensus and practicing team work.
Campers were encouraged to bring their unique spirit to the work. Levine says, “I believe it’s our birthright as humans and as Jews to experience creativity. I frame painting sessions by starting with a blessing for creativity, doing a shalom pause, and taking the idea of being “a good artist” and letting go of it – I love seeing campers who say they aren’t good at it having a breakthrough – there were many times during the days of painting when we experienced together what I refer to as “the sacred silence of creativity”
“The kids have been amazingly enthusiastic and I hope the camp enjoys the pieces for many many years to come”
Jennifer Levine is the Director of Education at Temple Sholom, a reform synagogue in Scotch Plains, NJ. In tandem with her work at Sholom, she travels during the year and summer to other synagogues /camps to facilitate mural projects. Her latest one is called, “Paint a Prayer”. For more information, contact Jennifer – www.peacegardenproject.com