The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat

On View April 14 – October 25, 2015

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In Jewish tradition, one of the pillars of Jewish practice, Sabbath, or Shabbat, is observed in many ways, including going to synagogue, cooking a special meal, resting from work or physical activity and reflecting on life outside of our daily routines. This exhibition, The Seventh Day: Revisiting Shabbat, features contemporary and often provocative depictions of Shabbat through the works of leading international artists. Image

Over millennia, the interpretation and the practice of Shabbat has evolved, changed, and expanded to meet the needs of people, respond to the growth of rabbinic law, and adapt to the travails of living in the Diaspora. The Jewish celebration of the seventh day, encourages the following actions: Welcoming the moment, Giving charity, Blessing loved ones, Illuminating the dark, Acknowledging the fruits of the land, Sustaining life and the environment, Connecting with others, Sanctifying intimacy and sexuality, Continuing spiritual education, Awakening the senses, Imprinting generational memory, and Pausing to meditate, to achieve serenity, ease, peace.

With a rapidly changing Jewish community, characterized by increasing ethnic diversity, interfaith families, challenges affecting the organized institutions of Jewish life, and an unprecedented acceptance in the fabric of North American life, what does the seventh day mean to contemporary Jews who may or may not choose to adhere to traditional observance?

ImageThe artists in this exhibition have tackled this question, resulting in these works of art born out of an era where technology and culture have eroded the boundaries separating work, play, and repose.

The Seventh Day includes pieces based on Sabbath texts and functional ritual objects, including wine goblets, decanters, candlesticks, prayer books, challah plates and covers, havdalah spice containers, and a Sabbath throne. Concepts from midrash and the Kabbalah, reflecting mystical spirituality, also have inspired these artists.

These contemporary artworks engage our imagination and invite us to delve into the possibilities and new definitions of renewal, symbolized by the ‘day of rest.’