Summer 2013 Sacred Arts Institute

We are extremely excited to let you know of a new opportunity this summer at AJR. For the first time, AJR is offering four days of immersion in sacred arts: artistic expression devoted to the exploration of Torah and conversation with the divine. After years of integrating creative arts into its curriculum, AJR is offering this intensive summer program to AJR students and alumni, educators, artists, seminary students, and other members of the Jewish community who want to engage Jewish tradition through art. If you want to join us, mark your calendars for July 8-11! Please also recommend this program to your friends and congregants.

The theme of our week will be “night encampments”— moments in Torah when individuals confront crises, initiations, and meetings with the Divine during the dark hours. Each of the days of the intensive will begin with a warm-up and then text study: biblical, midrashic, and mystical. Text study will be on multiple levels. We’ll meet Jacob at Bethel and explore his dream, journey with Moses and Tziporah through an encounter with the angel of death, and meet the Israelites on their way out of Egypt—and there will be opportunities to probe other night encounters as well.

Participants will choose from three workshops. Arthur Strimling, the renowned Jewish storyteller, will be leading a storytelling workshop, working with the night encounter as story, incorporating participants’ life experience. Peter Pitzele, a founder of bibliodrama and a midrashic artist, will be leading a mixed media art workshop, assisted by artist Elizabeth Yaari. This workshop will explore the night encounter as a time when we see the unseeable, and will enrich participants’ capacity to “see Torah” through the lens of visual art. Finally, Jill Hammer (yours truly) will be leading “Divine Letters” — a workshop where participants create liturgy and poetry on the theme of the “night encounter as the mysterious meeting with the divine.” Each of these workshops will meet before and after lunch on each of the four days of the intensive. You can see fuller descriptions of the workshops below.

The intensive will include an educational workshop so participants can learn how to bring sacred arts to their own communities, as well as lunch and a creative minhah service each day. Thursday afternoon and evening there will be performances and a gallery showing, so all the participants can share their work.

This week will be an extraordinary gift: a chance to dive into a compelling practice that is both personally transformative and professionally useful. We hope that as many of you as possible will take advantage of this opportunity. Space in the workshops is limited: 12 per workshop. We will be accepting advance registration from students and alumni from now until May 7 (students will get priority until May 1). We feel confident there will be room for students and alumni who want to attend, but we recommend you register soon. You can register by calling the office or by filling out the on-line form at The fee for alumni and community members not interested in receiving credit will be $1,000.

Please feel free to write me at [email protected] with any questions. I wish you a revelatory Omer journey.

To read more about the workshops click here. If you would like to register, please click here. To learn more about our other summer offerings, please read the course descriptions here.