The Bronfman Fellowship Announces First-Ever Visiting Artists

By The Bronfman Fellowship Staff

For the first time in its thirty-four year history, The Bronfman Fellowship has selected a group of groundbreaking Visiting Artists to join its esteemed educational team. Jessica Tamar Deutsch, Aaron Henne, Alicia Jo Rabins, and Education and Programming Director Jake Marmer, all leading innovators in the field of Jewish art, will teach a robust series of art workshops for the 34th cohort of Bronfman Fellows.

The Bronfman Fellowship is a year-long, transformative experience of study and conversation centered around pluralism, social responsibility and Jewish texts, participated in by twenty-six Jewish teens from across North America, who were chosen following a competitive application process. Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in one of four different arts tracks this summer. Each track, consisting of six workshops over three weeks, will explore the question, “What is Jewish art?” The workshops aim to use art to enhance the Fellows’ connection with one another, and empower them to add their voices to the rich tapestry of Jewish culture and ideas.

The Visiting Artists, all widely recognized for their highly innovative approach to Jewish art, will lead arts tracks featuring visual narrative, music, theater, and poetry:

  1. Jessica Tamar Deutsch, the New York-based artist behind The Illustrated Pirkei Avot: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Ethics, will lead the track on visual narrative, which aims to give participants a deeper connection with their intuitive creativity and personal expression.
  2. Aaron Henne, the California-based Artistic Director of theatre dybbuk, will lead the theater track, in which participants explore complex conversations around identity, assimilation, and cultural exchange.
  3. Jake Marmer is a California-based poet whose works include The Jazz Talmud; he is also The Bronfman Fellowship’s Education and Programming Director. In his poetry workshops, Fellows will explore contemporary Jewish poets and create their own original works.
  4. Alicia Jo Rabins is a musician and writer in Oregon whose works include Girls in Trouble,an indie-folk song cycle about the complicated lives of women in Torah. She will lead the music track, which gives participants the opportunity to listen to and create “Jewishly experimental” music in any genre.

Due to the pandemic, the artists will lead the workshops remotely, and are in addition to the Fellowship’s longstanding, immersive curriculum in which Fellows explore a wide range of Jewish texts, from classic rabbinic sources to contemporary Israeli and American voices. The Visiting Artists will join an esteemed faculty of rabbis and educators including Jake Marmer, mentioned above; Rabbi Dr. Vanessa Ochs, professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia; Rabbi Dr. Micha’el Rosenberg, associate professor of Rabbinics and member of the tenured faculty of Hebrew College; Rabbanit Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, Manhiga Ruchanit (female spiritual leader) in Efrat, Israel; and Arielle Tonkin, an artist and Museum Educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

“The arts tracks complement the deep, intellectual approach to Jewish knowledge that’s been a part of The Bronfman Fellowship since its inception,” Education and Programming Director Jake Marmer said. “Art strengthens the Fellowship’s vision of pluralism because it allows you to see and hear the deeply personal contexts people are coming from. When you read a poem or listen to a song, empathy is not an abstract concept; you’re inhabiting somebody else’s personal vision, fraught with these very human ambiguities and self-contradictions.” He added that art is a counterpoint to the tendency towards superficiality and shallowness in today’s society. “Unlike brief snatches of social media and hyped-up news, art lets you immerse yourself in other people’s narratives, to respond, and build real connections with them.”

Alumni of The Bronfman Fellowship are community builders, deep thinkers, moral voices, and cultural creators. There are now over 1300 Bronfman Fellowship alumni across North America and Israel. The Fellowship encourages Fellows and alumni to use their talents and creativity to make a significant impact on the world. Notable alumni in the arts include Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, award-winning operatic counter-tenor; Dara Horn, author of novels about Jewish life; Joshua Meyer, internationally exhibited oil painter; Deborah Sacks Mintz, musician and Community Singing Consultant for Hadar’s Rising Song Institute; and Itamar Moses, Tony award-winning playwright for The Band’s Visit.

The Visiting Artists will begin their work with Bronfman on July 12th.