Tag Archives: arts

The Butterfly Project: Remembering Children of the Holocaust

by on April 19, 2015

butterfly project

Inspired by the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, the Butterfly Project was initiated by two teachers in the San Diego Jewish Academy in 2006 to remember the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The butterflies in our PJCC atrium were created by hands of all ages. Our youngest artists learned that every butterfly is unique, fragile and beautiful for its individuality.

Since the start of the project more than 200 communities have participate in countries including Israeli, Mexico, Canada, Austria, Cuba Tanzania, Morocco and Poland.

This type of community-based art goes hand-in-hand with the emotional work by Mi Polin, on display April 1 – June 25, 2015 in the PJCC Art Gallery.

Judaica Finds Life By Remembering The Past

by on April 14, 2015


This spring the PJCC Art Gallery is proud to present an exhibition highlighting the multifaceted projects of Mi Polin, (Hebrew for “From Poland”). Mi Polin, founded by the couple Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, is the first post-war brand that designs and produces Judaica in Poland. Mi Polin’s mission is two-fold: to create a new contemporary look of Jewish ritual objects, and to prove that Jewish life in Poland is vibrant. They embrace the future by giving great reverence to the past.

The PJCC reached out via email with a few questions for Helena and Aleksander, who are based in Poland.

Can you give an overview of the work you create as Mi Polin?

We are a design studio specializing in contemporary Jewish design. We have three fields of activity: we design, produce and distribute top quality contemporary Judaica, using only the finest bronze, crystal, ceramics, or wood. We also provide promotional graphic design for Jewish
institutions; for example, we designed a logo and commemorative art project for the anniversary of Warsaw Getto uprising. Last, we run Jewish design workshops for all ages and faiths.

We’re struck by your Mezuzah from this Home project, where you visit Pre-war Polish Jewish homes to recreate a mezuzah (a prayer casing found on doorposts of Jewish homes) from the original doorframe a mezuzah once inhabited.

“This is a series of new mezuzot—bronze casts of mezuzah traces. When you affix the mezuzah to your doorframe, you fill the emptiness and give it a second life. Sitting untouched for many years, these mezuzot can now fulfill their holy function. This realization is about the past. It brings memory about pre-war Jewish Poland and is also about life because remembrance is
a proof of life.”

Mi Polin offers to custom-make a mezuzah from a relative’s ancestor’s home town. Has this genealogy project uncovered any memorable stories or connections?

“We were commissioned to do a mezuzah for a Polish-Jewish press journalist. We arrived to Sokołów and noticed the front part of the building was under reconstruction. When we came closer we saw that old door was replaced by a new, plastic one. We were shocked because we thought that we lost this mezuzah trace. Then we met a resident who told us that the door had been replaced on Friday and on Monday it would be taken to a dump. We found the original
doorframe with the mezuzah trace in the back yard! Imagine how lucky we were to find a doorpost of an 80 year-old building on the last possible day. Immediately we decided to take it with us. We transported it by bus, by bicycle and on our backs to Helena’s home 25 miles away. Now this doorpost is in our studio.

“Another story—we did a bronze cast of mezuzah trace that was found at doorpost of Szeroka 38 in Kazimierz. We found that the most notable resident of Szeroka 38 was a very famous rabbi Joel Sirkes (1561-1640), called BaCH from the title of his book Bait Chadash. He was a Chief Rabbi of Krakow and the head of yeshiva in 1618-1640. He was buried in Remuh Cemetery behind this building. Our documents show, and we are almost 100% sure, that this mezuzah was mounted by Rabbi Sirkes by himself! We already done casts from 15 cities in southeast Poland.”

Your exhibition at the PJCC will include a brand new series documenting a multi-faith holiday art installation. Can you explain the site-specific setting, project, and response to the piece?

“This year Hannukah and Christmas are near the same time and we wanted to create a holiday atmosphere common for all Jews and Christians of Poland. The place of the event was carefully selected. It was organized at Brzozowa Square placed in Kazimierz, the former Jewish district in Kraków. Before the war, this area was a place where Jews and Christians lived together. Jews lived in buildings at left side, Christians at right. In the middle was a square where these people used to meet every day.

“We prepared 500 Christmas and Hannukah ornaments cut from mirror plexiglass and hung them on trees in the middle of Brzozowa Square, resulting in bright, ecumenical Trees of Light (pictured above). To create a magical atmosphere we added fog. The final work looked beautiful and dreamlike. Mirror ornaments were bouncing light in every direction. We planned Trees of Light as a viral event. Photos of Trees of Light were shared via social media and have been seen by more than 40,000 people.”

Visit the Mi Polin (From Poland) Exhibit at the PJCC April 1 – June 25, 2015.


Out Of The Desert Innovation Blooms

by on January 21, 2015


A desert state in a modern era, Israel has sparked the way as a world leader in resource allocation with pioneering innovations in solar energy and irrigation development. In fact, contemporary Israel is a major player on the world stage of technology, medicine, and engineering, boasting more scientists, technicians, and engineers per capita (140 per 10,000) than any other country in the world.

For a country so young, and so fraught with turmoil, an astonishing amount of life-enhancing Continue reading

Discover the Bay the Artsy Way

by on June 16, 2014


It’s fun to play tourist in your own backyard. I mean if you are going to staycation, the Bay Area, a major vacation destination is a pretty great place to do it. But this summer, get to better know the sites through site-specific performances.

Now if I suggested you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and take in the view, you’d rightly say, “Kimberly, thanks, but EVERYONE knows that.” But how much time have you spent under Continue reading

Amazing Things Happen When We Work Together

by on March 21, 2014

October 2013 was intense around here.  Well, at least for me; and certainly for our Artist-in-Residence, Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen.

The Center was filled with excitement, anticipation and inspiration for me and the hundreds of you who participated in one of our 28 mural painting sessions.

Our community, under Jay’s guidance,  took 1,560 square feet and 8 planter tops of blankness and transformed them into a work of art. A work of art that communicates social justice themes such as Environmental Stewardship, Human Rights & Dignity, Economic Justice, and Food Justice.

Do you remember eating lunch outside by the J café and seeing the steady progression over 15 packed days?  Or perhaps coming back after an absence to notice the work fully realized?  I remember October, but this documentary by Chip Curry brought back vivid details by capturing the communal spirit and offering candid testimonials.  I’m delighted to share it with you.

Continue reading

Dynamic Duos

by on January 16, 2014


The Perks of Being a Duo

Simon & Garfunkel topped the charts in the very unofficial hallway poll of favorite famous musical duos I conducted.  “Of course this is the PJCC,” a co-worker warned, should the results seem in any way biased.  If your favorite is Hall & Oates, Sonny & Cher, or Ike & Tina Turner, rest assured you were also represented.

It got me pondering the many ways in which 4 hands can be better than two, musically.  So I went directly to the source and asked our upcoming Up Close performers for their impressions of duodum. Continue reading