By Shelley Werner
(AJNews) – Art and Scroll Studio will host the Season Finale of their Zoominar series on Wednesday May 19, at 7 pm MDT. Each of their first eight episodes has focused on a unique artist in presentation of their work. This show will have a twist: the joint conversation of a featured artist with a well-known local rabbi.
What do an embroidery artist and a rabbi have in common? Rachel Braun weaves her multi-coloured works of art taking as her inspiration the myriad sources available in Jewish heritage. Inspired by the phrases and descriptive passages found in Torah she weaves her interpretation of liturgy into colour and rhythmic line.
Rabbi Mark Glickman, spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary, has both a keen appreciation for Judaic art and expertise in the interpretation of Torah texts. Rabbi Glickman will share his deep understanding of Torah text focusing on the traditional interpretations as well as his own perspective on the passages.
Calgary’s Temple B’nai Tikvah welcomed Rabbi Mark S. Glickman as their Rabbi in July 2016. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in suburban Chicago, Rabbi Glickman graduated cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 1985. He received his rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati in 1990. His first book Sacred Treasure: The Cairo Genizah (Jewish Lights Publishing) was published in 2011. His second book Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books (Jewish Publication Society) was released in 2016.
Embroidery allows Rachel to enter and interpret Jewish sacred texts. Her ideas always start with words from Torah or liturgy. Next, she designs and stitches Judaic embroidery to elucidate those texts. The drafting work is highly mathematical, incorporating ideas from geometry and algebra. In 2017, Rachel collected her designs and divrei Torah in a book, Embroidery and Sacred Text. Rachel is a high school math teacher and statistician, and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest graph paper collection in the world (she has 1850+ sheets of distinct graph paper grids). She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Braun explains that embroidery has “become a potent practice of living Torah and enacting Jewish life, rather than documenting myself for future generations. These experiences unfold in the offering of a drasha, a textual commentary, within the design itself, and indeed, in the repetitive glide of the needle through the fabric.”
Braun has said that she’s drawn to the portions of the Bible that bore most people. She noted that among her favorite chapters are the descriptions of the Israelites wandering in the desert with various stops of the journey listed. “I like the ‘begats’ as well as the details construction of the mishkan, or tabernacle,” she said. Braun uses the word meditative to describe her detailed threading and weaving of pattern and line. Repeating these details in the Torah is a way of “insisting that this biblical people’s dramatic experience is worth pausing to take note of. In embroidery, you experience that same rhythm—the little details add up to an entire story.”
“Before I start stitching I figure out how each of these different ways of acquiring Torah fit together,” she said. “The individual pieces come together as one full presentation of the ways we can access Torah.” But there is something ineffable about Braun’s process. Pausing over each stitch and repeatedly using the same motion with the needle enables her “to get a song going in my hand. It’s an entry in immersing myself in the text.”
Rabbi Glickman will express his own interpretation of the texts illuminated by Rachel. He will share his unique background as an author and Torah scholar to provide rabbinic insight into the work. The format of the episode will be the same as Art and Scroll Studio trademark conversational style, and will allow time for questions and comments.
Threads of Torah: Woven Words and Wisdom will be the Season Finale on Wednesday May 19, 2021 at 7 pm MDT. For free tickets please register at artandscrollstudio.com.