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March 29, 2013

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 29, 2013 i New study offers tips on engaging Jevd.,00h teens BBYO Two Jewish teenagers enjoying their time last year at the Perlman camp in Lake Pomo, Pa. Young Life A Jewish education expert lamented the lack of coopera- tion among the Jewish organizations that work with teens, shown here at the Washington Family Ranch-Canyon Camp in Antelope, Ore., in 2009. BBYO Jewish teens should not be punished for showing up ir- regularly for events, like this BBYO gathering, one strategy aimed at boosting their involvement says. By Gil Shefler NEWYORK (JTA)----ying to interest teenagers in activi- ties is difficult, parents and teachers know well, especially given what technology has done to the attention spans of young people. " So how to get them to partake in doing Jewish over other pursuits? The Jim Joseph Foundation commissioned two consult- ing firms to carry out a two-year study to figure it out. BTW Informing Change and Rosov Advisors mined data from 21 organizations geared toward Jewish and non-Jewish teens. Their conclusions: Hire good staff, be flexible on attendance and target teens through social media. As a teen might say, "Duhl" "People who know the teen space well will not be shocked by the findings, but they are important realizations for anyone involved in the field," said Josh Miller, the senior program manager at the Jim Joseph Foundation, which has invested $270 million to promote Jewish education since 2006. The $200,000 study, which. cost $40,000 to print and disseminate according to a spokesperson, comes at a time-When the majority of young American Jews are not enrolled in Jewish schools. According to a 2008 paper commissioned, by the Avi Chai Foundation, an esti- mated 460,000 American Jews--about 45 percent of the school-aged demograph- ic-are enrolled in either Jewish day schools or Jewish supplementary education. Participation in Jewish ac- tivities outside school hours was lower. The Jim Joseph Founda- tion's study offers 10 "impli- cations for strategy'develop- ment" aimed at boosting those numbers. Among them: Accept teens as they are. Don't punish kids who show up irregularly for events. Create a recognizable brand. And, perhaps most impor- tant, find good staff to men- tor teens. "You might call them Pied Pipers, people who can create a relationship with others," said Jerry Somers, a board member at the Jim Joseph Foundation. "This is very essential to establishment of strong engagement." The paper notes that younger staffers tend to be better at forging such ties with adolescents, but cautions that employees in their early 20s have a higher furnover rate than those in their late 20s and early 30s. It also recommends using digital tools such as Facebook and text messaging to reach teens, citing the success of, a website that motivates youths to partake in social activism and has pioneered theuse of texts to stay in touch with its user base. Creating partnerships also is important. Joe Reimer, an expert on Jewish education at Brandeis University and a member of the research advisory group for the report, lamented the lack of coopera- tion in the world of Jewish organizations working with teens. "Each synagogue has its group, then a BBYO, then you have people working in the public schools and Zionist movements and they're all doing their own thing," he said. "The question is, how can we bring this all together to bring this together?" Somers said itwas possible to cultivate closer relations, Giving the familiar a new k By Sandee Brawarsky New York Jewish Week In the entrance hallway of the Jewish Theological Semi- nary, Ben Rubin's new video installation projects light onto Broadway and into the lobby and adjacent courtyard. Sus- pended from the high ceiling, the screen carries a series of 5,378 colored images, each in- spired by a page of the Talmud. Rubin can't read the text, but has long been drawh to the geometric designs, with blocks of text of different sizes in mostly concentric patterns, and narrow margins providing white space. His installation is part of a new exhibition at JTS, "Reding the Visual/Visual- izing the Text, ' the inaugural show of the JTS Arts Advisory Board. Rubin's work is fea- tured along with work by four other contemporary artists, with paintings by Tobi Kahn and Jill Nathanson, textile designs by Rachel Kanter and photo installations by Danielle Durchslag. The Arts Advisory Board was established in the spring of 2011 by Chancellor Arnold Eisen to create arts initiatives throughout JTS' five schools. Debra Zarlin Edelman, chair of the board, explains that it was "given the mandate to bring arts to the building in a way it hasn't been before." The idea behind "Reading the Visual/Visualizing the Text" is simple and creative. Members of the Visual Arts Comnhittee, chaired by Edel- man and Susan Chevlowe, offered the artists the oppor- tunity to reach into the JTS collection and respond, either by creating a work of art, or pairing an item with some- thing they had already done,. in a site-specific installation. Given the impressive array of manuscripts, photographs, rare books and other treasures that comprise the JTS library's ESTATE BUYER Silver. boilS Gold;Diamonds iiliil 400000831-8544 Daniel Montesi 1st Choice00Iome Companion Services "Touching our Customer's lives one at a time" Best Prices Quality Services 555 Winderley Place Ste. 300 Maitland, FL. 32751 Call 321.594.3579 24 hrs./7 DaYs a Week www. Carin for l}ou in [tour home world-renowned collection, this is an exhibition that was waiting to happen. The artists' work is now hanging in the Women's League Seminary Synagogue on the second floor, the library, student lounge, and other hallways and alcoves, all places that are frequented. The organizers' hope was that the work would help JTS stu- dents, faculty and staff, along with visitors to the landmark building, to look anew at what was familiar. Not to compare the halls of JTS to the sides of subway cars, but il;'s not unlike the idea of featuring poetry on New York City transit--people enjoy finding poems in unexpected places and take them in in a different way than if they were reading a book. Danielle Durchslag dipped into the JTS photo archives, looking especially for photos labeled "Unknown." In "Arch- way of the Forgotten," she offers traces of past lives, mixing her own family photos--paper-cut portraits made using layered pieces of hand-cut paper-- with striking vintage photos of anonymous people. Most are dressed formally and many are women, allwith stories behind them. All the photos are hung closely together, on a wall surrounding an arch. Here, she is honoring her ancestors and also these people who are otherwise forgotten in the rare book room. Jill Nathanson's installation is the most straightforward conversation between art and text. Her three paintings, dravn from her 2005 series "Seeing Sinai," were done as part of a collaboration with Arnold Eisen (when he was at Stanford University). The paintings offer a stunning abstract visual commentary on Moses' encounter with God on Mouat Sinai, based on a close reading of Exodus 33 and 34. She uses color, light and Hebrew lettering, creating air and space and dynamic energy, to represent the unseen. Nathanson reports that studying texts with Eisen changed the way she under- stood the words of Torah and then the way she depicted the scenes, and for Eisen, seeing her paintings in turn influ- enced his interpretation of the text. He provides commentary in accompanying wall texts. Alternate views of Moses at Sinai are provided by il- lustrations drawn from the library collection, with copies hanging along an adjacent hallway. In a page from the Rothschild mahzor from 1490 Florence, Moses holds up the Ten Commandments atop a green mountain, and a crowd gathers at the foot of Sinai in an illustration from the 1350 Sarajevo Haggadah. Edelman is quick to point out that this exhibition space is not a museum. The curators - faced challenges with signage (room numbers and names) and fire extinguishers hanging on the walls that couldn't be moved. A film featuring the artists' voices plays next to some vending machines. But all that adds to a spontaneous and fresh quality f the show. Kahn created a series of elegant small abstract paint- ings in response to illuminated manuscripts selected by the Library's art curator, Sharon Lieberman-Mintz. His works pick up the deep colors, bor- der patterns, design motifs and rhythms of the manu- scripts-including a 1487 sid- dur from Florence and an 1875 Judeo-Arabic Haggadah from Iraq--and present something entirely new. The paintings would command attention individually, but he has also created a careful assemblage on a high wall in the library, adding another level of inter- pretation and beauty. While the illuminated pages are on view in a glass case, Kahn does not indicate which paintingwas inspiredbywhich design, leaving those matches to the viewer to ponder. Kahn explains, "I want someone to look at things with new eyes." Rachel Kanter moved a minyan of "women" into the Women's League Seminary Synagogue. Hanging on metal stands, the women's figurines are draped in original tallitot, or prayer shawls, she made based on vintage aprons. Her hope is that viewers will start asking questions. Kanter's designs come out of her own experience. When she first put on a traditional tallit, she felt like she was wearing her father's overcoat. Since she has always made things, she decided to study and then create her own kosher tallit complete with fringes, inspired by priestly robes worn in biblical times. The aprons are a variation. For Kanter, aprons are a quintessential women's garment, associated with home, comfort and her grandmother. Each tallit, with its embroi- dery, quilting and intricate ornamentation, tells a story, based on a traditional text. The series links to an early- 20th-century colorful New Year's card from the library, depicting a woman draped in the American flag, an image Kanter relates to her own faro-. ily's immigrant background. "In Memory of Miss Rose Soblovitch #1" was made from Rose's father's tailit, based on a 1925 apron pattern found in her home. Others have themes of immigration, farming and also prayer. In another installation, Durchslag turned a photo- graph of the JTS rabbinical class of;1925 on its side, noting the success of the North Shore Youth Initia- tive, a group in the northern Boston suburbs that the,Jim Joseph Foundation helped start in 2008. "It's a collaboration of youth groups, any group that deals with Jewish teens," he said. "It's a matter of enhanc- ing opportunities. "In terms of streams of Judaism, most youths don't care whether the group is af- filiate d with Chabad, Reform, Conservative or whatever. They want to be with their friends, their peers, and do things that are worthwhile." The Jim Joseph Foundation said it planned to use the report's findings in future investment strategies. and hung it on a wall of the Student Lounge. Those hori- zontal "rabbis were grouped with other historical photos, some similarly askew, that all have a purple tinge, perhaps from aging or from the light. These portraits and group scenes were previously hang- ing in the seminary hallways, largely unnoticed by people walking by. Now set against a wall newly painted a lighter shade of purple, these photos are hard to miss. They provide new meanings and a touch of humor to JTS life. Rubin, a media artist who designed "Shakespeare Ma- chine" for the lobby of the Pub- lic Theatre in New York City, says that he enjoyed talking to members of the JTS faculty about the Talmud, in particu- lar David Kraemer, who heads the library and is a'irofessor of Talmud and rabbinics. In a wall text, Kraemer States, "What you've got in Ben Rubin's technology in- fluences in a very profound way the nature of traditional Jewish identity. The question becomes: 'How do new tech- nologies stand to affect the na- te of Jewish self-perception, identity and so forth? How will that change the nature of our' study?'" Elsewhere, Eisen is quoted on the wail: "Art is a path to the sacred and the soul that we walk with pleasure, a portal to Jewish community and Jewish meaning that one cannot walk through often enough." "Reading the VisualVisual- izing the Text "is on view at The Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway (!22nd Street) through May 29. For more information, go to Sandee Brawarsky is the book critic for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission.