Who is Bezalel and What Would He Think?

What is the relationship of Jewish art and culture to the wider Jewish community and to Jewish identity? Referencing artists such as Sandi DuBowski and Galeet Darshati, Elise Bernhardt provides numerous examples from the world of Jewish art today in order to reveal the impact of Jewish art and its ability to foster Jewish engagement. Despite the importance of Jewish art and culture in the Jewish community, Bernhardt reveals that only a tiny amount of Jewish philanthropy (1%) is directed toward Jewish arts. Bernhardt argues that if Jewish art and culture is so central to Jewish identity, we must prioritize funding the arts.

Elise Bernhardt is currently the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a choral group that provides opportunity for young people to be trained and to perform at the highest level. Previously, Bernhardt was CEO and President of the Foundation for Jewish Culture between 2006-2014, when it closed down. During her time there, she founded the New Jewish Culture Network, a commissioning and touring program that focused on new Jewish music. She also worked on creating various new funds for artists. In addition, Bernhardt founded and directed Dancing in the Streets, an organization that produced free public dance performances, between 1983-1998. She has also served as Executive Director of The Kitchen, a non-profit organization that aims to provide a space for contemporary artists to meet and explore new ideas together.

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