"A Letter in the Scroll" Art Program Testimonials:
Barry facilitates this immersive experience for communities using the creative process to tap into issues of unity and Jewish identity.
“It was an honor to invite Barry Goldstein to join us this year as artist-in-residence at the Jeffrey Lasky Memorial Arts Weekend, a youth group retreat that North Shore Congregation Israel has coordinated for over 40 years. With Barry’s guidance and encouragement, our teens and adult chaperones created a 100-ft illustrated Torah. Instead of filling the scroll with the traditional Torah portions, each participant painted a panel of the scroll to articulate his or her own unique life journey, a fitting exercise as we were together for Shabbat Lech L’cha. Throughout the weekend, Barry invited us to reflect on each of our individual strengths and our place as individuals in the community and among humanity, all rooted in the story of Abraham, Sarah, and the Jewish people. The scroll we created is beautiful, but the scroll alone, as fabulous as it is, simply does not accurately epitomize the enormity of the experience.
Barry very quickly developed trust among the participants and great rapport with each of his students. He lovingly brought us into a space suited for personal exploration and meaningful self-expression. That type of environment is a special gift for teens today, many of whom live fast-paced screen-dependent lives, constantly worrying about schoolwork, extracurricular responsibilities and the many pressures of being an adolescent today. Instead, Barry invited the teens to focus on themselves, to use art and creative expression to explore their own identity and worldview, in the safety of their Jewish community, supported by their peers, adult chaperones and clergy.” Rabbi Ryan Daniels, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL
The Lasky Arts Retreat began over 30 years ago with the vision of interpreting and exploring the Torah and key elements of Jewish life through the arts. For three days, 20 to 30 high school students relocate to Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute. There they embark upon a Jewish journey that includes, but is not limited to the development of Midrash through art, music, dance, theater, improvisation, and poetry. This retreat gives students the opportunity to use their unique talents and skills to understand the relevance of Judaism in their lives.
In 2012, Barry Goldstein served as the Artist-in-residence for the Lasky weekend. The artistic journey created and facilitated by Barry, exceeded all expectations set by the Lasky family, students and other facilitators. The art served as a platform for individual and collective work focused on the topics of our Jewish identity and our role in the ongoing interaction with the Torah and the Covenant. Though the project allowed for significant personal reflection, it also relied upon collaboration by all the participants.
The outcome mirrored the traditional view of Torah with its many layers of understanding. Like the Torah there are clear and basic understandings one has when encountering the work. Also like the Torah, once opened, the meanings of each section are left to study and imagine.
While the product impressed all who encountered it, the process yielded even greater fruit. Because the process was born out of each individual expression, the result was not limited or bound. There was very little boxed in, very few limitations; there were so many components that left everything to imagination and possibility. Yet somehow, through Barry’s vision and guidance everything pulled together. Here you had disparate people coming each with their own lens and applying their unique perspectives and somehow at the end, there was a unifying thing and shared experience of emotional depth. I believe many were, in some measure, transformed by the experience. We might never reach this pinnacle again. Kol Hakavod to Barry.” Cantor David Goldstein, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL
“Each year, NSCI invites an artist-in-residence to be the teacher/facilitator of a 3-day arts retreat for Jewish high school students. Over the years, the students have explored art forms ranging from hip-hop spoken word poetry to music composition to metal sculpting. We were excited to connect with Barry Goldstein to help us delve into the exploration of “Torah” through visual arts.
After significant study of classic Jewish texts on Torah with our synagogue clergy, Barry constructed an incredible plan for the students that would enable them to literally create the Torah of their lives. Barry thought through every possible details, from what the best supplies would be to what sort of environments would be needed to optimize both thoughtfulness, the creative process, and identity exploration, all deeply rooted in Jewish practice.
As a rabbi on the weekend, I observed each of our diverse student participants delve deeply into themselves, their beliefs, and then discover their own ways to make those realizations manifest artistically. And all of that paled in comparison to the true power of what happened when the group came together to assemble their individual Torah panels into a linked scroll, and then construct the actual Torah’s Atzei Chaim, whimple, m’il, rimonim, breast plate and yad together out of natural, found objects. It is hard to put into words the profound impact not just of the product that was created, but of the process as well.” Rabbi Wendi Geffen, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, IL
Jewish Programming Award
Barry Goldstein’s "A Letter in the Scroll" Wins 2017 Jewish Programming Award
The Unity Scroll sponsored by the Charles E. Smith Life Communities in Rockville, MD, won the 2017 Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) Programming Award.
Every year, the AJAS recognizes Jewish programs developed and implemented by organizations that are innovative, creative and specifically designed to enhance the spiritual well being of the older adults they serve.
Charles E. Smith Life Communities: Smithlifecommunities.org
Assoc. of Jewish Aging Services: Ajas.org
As reported in Erickson national newsletter
Creation of Scroll offers Insight into Faith, Identity for Riderwood Jewish Community
Silver Spring, MD—Resident members of the Riderwood Jewish Community made a spiritual journey this summer without leaving the 120-acre campus they call home.
With the guidance of artist and wife team Barry and Marlene Goldstein, Jewish Community residents created a sculptural representation of a Torah scroll that combined individually created paintings with the written word to express personal aspects of their Jewish identity and faith. Barry is the son of residents Bernard and Gloria Goldstein.
The endeavor began on June 19 as the Goldsteins met with a group of thirty-two (32) members of the Riderwood Jewish Community. Barry shared his vision “to create a piece of art through painting, writing and community collaboration that captures each individual’s very personal expression of an aspect of Jewish identity.” He also described a similar art experience that he led in Chicago during a weekend retreat with high school students.
According to Roy Stern, President of the Jewish Community, the participating members were curious as to what the project entailed and excited by the possibilities.
“We were very impressed with the idea and the detailed coordination offered by Barry and Marlene,” said Mr. Stern.
The participants then went to work, reflecting on a series of questions provided by the Goldsteins to serve as a starting point for the messaging that would be articulated on the panels. They thought about their influencers, connections and life experiences as it related to being Jewish.
On July 23, the group came together in a craft room of the Erickson Living retirement community to make and decorate the scroll and organize their panels. The residents divided into teams to complete each assignment.
The stories behind the panels began to emerge at this gathering. For instance, Lilian Goldberg, 84, painted a colorful water scene on her panel.
“I was born in Brooklyn, and our large family often visited Coney Island and Brighton Beach,” she noted. “We always seemed to be near water so my panel reflected the faith and wonderful memories shared with my family.”
The completed Riderwood Scroll was revealed during two ceremonies in August, one at the community’s continuing care neighborhood and the other at the non-denominational chapel. As it was unfurled, the length of the scroll reached nearly one-hundred (100) feet.
During these presentations, participants eloquently stated the emotions of the near-two month journey.
“The responses ranged from exhilaration to fulfillment,” described Mr. Stern. “We performed this project in an open, non-judgmental manner so that everyone would be comfortable in sharing their panels.”
Rabbi Stan Levin agreed. He has served the Jewish Community at Riderwood for thirteen years.
“When Barry and Marlene proposed the concept, I was delighted. It was time well spent, a thrilling ride for our residents,” said Rabbi Levin. “Whether the participants could draw a stick figure or paint the Mona Lisa, they did so in a loving, encouraging environment. The panels were stitched together as one, and as they were revealed, it was a spell-binding moment.”
To the point, participants wrote testimonials about the project. A sampling of their comments included:
“Has given me a gift to enrich my Jewish life!”
“I’m so privileged, one of those amazing times in life, that you just had to be there -- so deep, so powerful and so truly personal.”
“Our scroll is a tangible work of art and we can all take pride in its production. It is precious not because it is fashioned with precious metals, jewels, and rare fabric. It is precious because we all put our heart and soul into it.”
The project leader was energized by the passion of the residents. “From day one, it was deeply moving to be a part of this experience,” described Barry. “We have the highest reverence for the Torah and our sense of community, and as a group of artists, we found a way to express those sentiments with purpose.”
Mr. Stern stated that the scroll is being temporarily housed in the chapel, but the group is exploring ways in which to share it during future events at Riderwood and the greater community.
As Barry noted, “when you walk in the sand, you leave a footprint. The messages on this scroll live beyond this summer.”