Reinterpretation and Creative Expression Highlight Day of Reinventing Jewish Rituals

Family-Friendly Event Open to the Community

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

October 27, 2009, New York, NY

Galeet DardashtiHow do we remember that God is present even in bad times? Is there a connection between electricity and prayer? How can new approaches to ancient rituals feel authentic?

A Day of Reinventing Ritual, a family-friendly, thought-provoking, and hands-on day in which to learn, reinterpret, and creatively express Jewish ritual, will take place from 9:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 15, at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City.

Presented by JTS in collaboration with The Jewish Museum, the event (open to adults and children age seven and older), will feature workshops, performance, and commentary by scholars and artists from the groundbreaking Jewish Museum exhibition Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life. The exhibition, on view at The Jewish Museum through February 7, 2010, features nearly sixty innovative works created between 1999 and 2009 by fifty-eight leading artists and designers in diverse media. (For further information about the exhibition and catalog, which includes an essay by Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS, email

Dr. Vanessa OchsThrough art, design, movement, and music, participants will have the opportunity to Explore the System of Blessings, to learn ways of feeling God’s presence in difficult times; Investigate the Sukkah as an abstract concept and physical object through the creation of drawings and models; learn how to chant Torah by combining music with movement in Trope Aerobics; create an electrical circuit and discover the relationship between religious and artistic practice and rituals and performance in Electricity and Prayer; and personally design Innovative Ritual Objects, including kippot (yarmulkes) or tallitot (prayer shawls).

Artists and scholars will include: Tobi Kahn, artist-in-residence, JTS; Rachel Kanter, MFA, Rochester Institute of Technology School for American Crafts; Hadas Kruk and Anat Stein (Studio Armadillo); Allan Wexler, winner of the Henry J. Leir Prize; Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus (LoVid); Cantor Sharon Brown-Levy, Temple Emanu-El of West Essex, Livingston, New Jersey; and Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at JTS.

The program includes the JTS Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture, consisting of a concert by Middle Eastern vocal innovator Galeet Dardashti and a wrap-up address by Dr. Vanessa Ochs, award-winning author of Inventing Jewish Ritual and an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Dr. Ochs will provide an impromptu anthropological analysis of the day's activities based on her own participation and observations and discuss how novel approaches to ritual can be made to feel real and holy in a short time.

Attendees should register by Wednesday, November 11. Limited space is available and early registration is encouraged. The cost of the full-day program is $36 per person (includes box lunch); free of charge for children 7 through 17 (accompanied by a parent or adult guardian as appropriate), and for JTS students and alumni. Participants are asked to bring photo ID. To register or for further information, including the schedule, visit

Admission to the JTS Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture only (the Galeet Dardashti concert and address by Dr. Ochs) is free. To register only for the Rudin lecture, or for general inquiries, email or call (212) 280-6093.