Jewish Text Art Challenge Galleries, Nissan ~ "B'tzeit Yisrael" בצאת ישראל

The Jewish Background Check

“When Israel went forth from Egypt…”

Essential words in the background story of the Jewish people. Our art gives this story new life every day. How will you be inspired to bring it front and center in this new month of Nissan?

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Elul - Avinu Malkeinu

Avinu Malkeinu – Blessed – Rae Shagalov

The marriage of text and art to inspire spiritual growth is the foundation of artist Rae Shagalov’s work. In her piece “Avinu Malkeinu” and its accompanying text, the power of prayer and its ability to bring blessings are paramount. To see and read more about Rae Shagalov’s art, please see www.joyfullyjewish.com and www.holysparks.com.

 

Elul - Avinu Malkeinu, Jewish Text Art Challenge Galleries

Elul – Humility and Grace

The beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul signals the beginning of the Jewish people’s preparation for the High Holy Days. Special prayers are added to the daily service, including the “Avinu Malkeinu”. In this prayer we ask God to watch over us in the coming year, and it culminates in our plea for justice, righteousness and deliverance. We become humble before God and pray for grace.

This month’s Jewish Text Art Challenge will feature art in a variety of media inspired by the Avinu Malkeinu prayer. If you have work that you would like to share, please fill out the contact form on the main Jewish Text Art Galleries page https://booksandblintzes.com/home/jtac/.

Jewish Text Art Challenge Galleries, July/Tammuz "Ma Tovu Ohalecha Ya'acov" How Goodly Are Your Tents O Jacob

Ma Tovu – A First Look At The Text

 

At the beginning of each month I like to drop the Jewish Text Art Challenge verse into Notegraphy.com and see how the different styles make the words pop for me. With this month’s selection, “Ma Tovu – How Goodly Are Your Tents” from the Book of Numbers 24:5, this geometric and colorful style really made them explode off the screen. I love the idea of looking down at the Israelite’s camp and seeing the diversity of the tents. There’s texture and color in the triangles but a unity in the diamond as a whole. For me this text is all about perspective, and what you will see when encountering something new.

It’s a first look at Ma Tovu – I can’t wait to share more! Join the conversation and tell us your impression. What does this text mean to you? Sing it, paint it, dance it, make it yours! Happy creating time!

Graphic Design, Visual Arts

Guest Contributor – Erica Schultz Yakovetz, Calligrapher and Graphic Designer

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Calligraphy is a longstanding tradition in Jewish art. The Biblical injunction against “graven images” is usually interpreted to include any representational or figurative artwork, so Jewish artisans got creative with what they were allowed to use: letters and words.

Words and letters have filled my soul all my life. At age 5, I was writing stories. At 10, I learned to write sonnets—and also had my first calligraphy class. At 17, I fell in love with Judaism by way of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, and never looked back.

Text is my native mode of spiritual expression. And text has been Judaism’s primary spiritual mode ever since the act of prayer supplanted the act of temple sacrifice. Even our physical ritual actions must be offered gift-wrapped in snippets of ritual text: the brachot, blessings, that accompany them.

Today, I’m also a typographer at heart. I’ve been a graphic design professional since 1994, with an extensive print portfolio encompassing books, catalogs, invitations, logos, flyers, T-shirts, the works. I’ve been working in Adobe InDesign since it was Aldus PageMaker. But the longer I use typography software, the more inspired I get to play with its potential. It’s no longer just words on a page—it’s a way to make those words dance.

So how do I get inspired to create a new piece of Judaica? Some words catch my eye and fire my imagination. Most often, it’s either a Biblical text or a passage from the siddur, the Jewish prayerbook. (Frequently, it’s both at once, as much of the wording in our formal prayers is composed of Biblical quotations.)

I am inspired by the sounds and letters as much as by the meaning in a passage. My goal with my art is to bring alive all the dimensions of the Hebrew text: the meaning, the sound, and how the Hebrew correlates with the English. I frequently color-key specific words or phrases to create explicit visual connections between the Hebrew, English, and transliterated text.

By way of example, let me walk through two pieces… which, though unrelated, both ultimately took on a circular structure with “peace” at the core.

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Elokai Ntzor (2007): This text is a “meditation” that comes after the Amidah in the prayer service. The rhythms in the text, especially, are what make it meditative for me. Having pondered them during davening for months on end, I came up with this mandala-style arrangement intertwining the Hebrew text with its transliteration. The outermost ring is the English translation of the full passage. After this piece was complete, I adapted the center detail into a smaller piece focusing just on the closing passage, the well-known Oseh Shalom: “The One who makes peace in the heavens will make peace for us and for all Israel.”

to_everything_watermarkedTo Everything There Is A Season (2014): The primary motif I had in mind for this piece was a sine wave or helix structure, which evolved into winding the English around the Hebrew. The above-and-below undulation of the English phrases conveys the duality in each of the pairings. I chose to invert the Hebrew layer so that the text flow of both languages could run in the same clockwise direction, enhancing the “wheel of time” feeling of the passage. Ultimately, I arranged the text in four nesting circles, with “a time for peace” at the center—driving the whole composition, like Pete Seeger’s musical adaptation, toward an optimistic vision.

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Erica Schultz Yakovetz is a graphic designer and Judaica artist, as well as a musician, wife to Aaron and mom to Aria. After almost 25 years in Boston and NYC, she moved back to her native Northwest Indiana in April 2014. Most of her artwork is available from her Etsy shop, Schultz Yakovetz Judaica, or her Zazzle store. She also does custom work, including invitations and ketubahs. She sporadically writes about her design projects and other ideas at blog.erica-schultz.com. Follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.

***The words and artwork shared by Erica Schultz Yakovetz on this site are her original work to which she retains all rights. Please do not copy, quote, or share without appropriate permission, credit, and/or compensation.***