Cleveland Jewish Arts and Culture Lab’s ‘Homeland and Promised Land’ spotlights artwork from Cleveland, Israel and Russia

By Carlo Wolff

The work of 12 Greater Clevelanders, four Israelis from Beit Shean and five Russians from St. Petersburg will be on display starting May 9 at the Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood. These artistic endeavors are the fruit of the Cleveland Jewish Arts and Culture Lab, a Mandel JCC program launched four years ago to broaden the notion of Jewish sensibility through art.

This year’s theme, “Homeland and Promised Land: The Importance of Cultural Zionism,” takes on a new dimension in light of the 20-year bond between sister cities Beit Shean and Cleveland, said Sara Hurand, who runs the program with Rabbi Zachary Truboff of Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai Synagogue in Lyndhurst.

Work by all the artists, who are fellows awarded cash stipends of $400 to $750, will be on display at the Mandel JCC. The artists from Israel and Russia won’t attend the opening, however, Hurand said.

“We have paintings, very short films, poems, a novel, mixed-media installations, batik — over 180 individual pieces of work,” she said. “We work with these Fellows for six months; Rabbi Truboff will touch on a current or biblical issue — modern politics, theology, philosophy.”

The program is open to “Jewishly identified people,” Hurand said, adding, “We look to have a group that represents a cross-section of our community,” from the ultra-Orthodox to Modern Reform.

Tamarah Long, a CJAC Fellow from Cleveland, created the installation, “She Dreams of Flowers.” Here’s part of her artistic statement:

“The world is complex but I hope these drawings and paintings give people the thought that perhaps gratitude is in order for this incredible homeland that lives not only in our minds, but for most of us that are at this show today, it is also our reality to be able to dream in color.

“As I continue to work on this project, I would like to work on a series of sepia-toned works that portray the journey and horror that exists for some refugees. This was very much on my mind, as I created this installation and as I studied the beautiful images in the Torah.” CV

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on May 4, 2016.

Lead image: Tamarah Long at work on her “She Dreams of Flowers” installation. PHOTO | Ashley Hartman