Chag Sameach: Children’s Perspectives on Jewish Holidays

On View:
Nov 28, 1997 - Apr 19, 1998
Judah L. Magnes Museum United States
2121 Allston Way | Berkeley , CA
Gallery Hours:

Beyond the fridge, childrens art enhances Shabbat table, museums (from

By J. Correspondent | May 15, 1998

“Since I’m an artist and a mother, my house is filled with children’s art,” said Lipkin, who has two children and lives in the East Bay. “It is very important for parents to value and display it.”

True to the Jewish tradition of beautifying religious observances, Tehiyah students create ritual objects for use as well as decoration. This year’s kindergarten class used clay to make seder plates, cups for Elijah, and pinchpot cups to hold saltwater and items on the seder plate. They used brown and white clay with blue and clear glazes, the colors of the earth and the Jewish state.

Fifth-grader Sasha Flamm of Berkeley has created a collection of artwork to celebrate the cycles of Jewish life: menorahs of clay and wood, clay Shabbat candlesticks painted with watercolors for “an old look,” painted fabric challah and matzah covers, and a hand-sewn bag to hold a dreidel or other Chanukah goodies, said her mother, Linda Flamm. Flamm said her daughter enjoys seeing her own handiwork on the table during holidays — as do other family members.

“It’s so much nicer to have her own creative work” than store-bought items, Flamm said.

Lipkin ties her lessons in artistic techniques with the curriculum in each grade. The fifth-grade class is studying famous women, including Golda Meir and Anne Frank. Their art project is a “dinner party,” inspired by the well-known exhibit by artist Judy Chicago. The children painted plates with portraits of women and symbols of their lives. One plate representing Anne Frank is trimmed with barbed wire and Stars of David.

Some Tehiyah artists have displayed their work publicly. The seventh-graders have ceramics and paintings on view at the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley. Taking their inspiration from items in the museum’s collection, they made life-size clay symbols of shofars, oil lamps and other items signifying the Jewish holidays to parallel the museum pieces.

For the exhibit titled “Chag Sameach! Children’s Perspectives on Jewish Holidays,” the seventh-graders also painted self-portraits in the style of Jewish artist Marc Chagall, using colors and symbols to represent the mood of various Jewish holidays, with dark tones for Yom Kippur and bright hues for Chanukah. In designing the exhibit, the students worked with Magnes educational director Ruth Levitch. The students’ art is accompanied with corresponding items from the museum’s collection.

The activities “were all coordinated to share the year of Jewish life,” Lipkin said.

One of the third-grade classes became involved in Paintbrush Diplomacy, an international project in which children from all over the world exchange paintings. In keeping with this year’s theme, food, some of the Tehiyah children depicted traditional Jewish foods in their paintings. While some of the paintings were sent to other countries, two will be displayed in San Francisco later this year at the International Children’s Art Museum “Global Diner” exhibit.

“Chag Sameach! Children’s Perspectives on Jewish Holidays” is on display through May 30 at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell Street, Berkeley. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Information: (510) 849-2710. “Global Diner” opens Aug. 21 at the International Children’s Art Museum, Ferry Building, Embarcadero and Market, S.F. Information: (415) 772-9977.

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