Community Blog Faith in Isolation

By Sydney Gross
woman looking out at tree

How does one worship alone? How have people of different religions embraced faith during this pandemic? How have sacred texts provided comfort in these times of isolation? Hebrew College’s new Arts Committee will tackle these questions in a photography show planned for Spring 2021: “Isolated Faith Expressed.” 

“All religions have beautiful things to share with one another. I want to show how many different religions who were isolated in their communities, were strengthened by their focus, revealing the core values of their inherent purpose,” said Beacon Hill photographer Brenda Bancel, who is curating the show. “I want to show how they embraced this time with grace.”

Bancel’s show, which is supported by a grant from CJP, will be the first exhibited in Hebrew College’s Cutler Atrium as part of the new Hebrew College Arts initiative. Hebrew College established the initiative last year in an effort to provide another outlet for fostering love of Torah, social justice, pluralism, and creativity through visual art. The Arts Committee – spearheaded by Founding Chair and Hebrew College Board of Trustees member Deborah Feinstein, with members Nancy Kaplan Belsky, Dorothea Buckler, Bette Ann Libby, Joshua Meyer, and Susan Schechter – selects various artists whose work focuses on creative dialogue with Jewish texts.

The Arts committee plans to curate a second show in spring or summer 2021 entitled “Seeing Torah,” a visual diary documenting artist Anita Rabinoff-Goldman’s study and artistic response to the 54 portions of the Torah over the cycle of a single Jewish year. Seeing Torah was initially scheduled to be displayed in spring 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. 

Bance, who is committed to using photography to bring awareness to important social issues, hopes that the new show will be a “testament about our resilience as the faithful.” After a career in the advertising industry, she studied at the New England School of Photography and Harvard Divinity School, and founded the TAKE 5 Foundation, a non-profit that focuses on education and guidance to instill children with a sense of creativity, hard work, and success.  

Instead of featuring her own work as she has done in past shows, she plans to showcase the work of others, displaying how people around the world turned to sacred texts to find calm, understanding, and compassion, and during this unprecedented time.” If possible, the exhibit will feature conversations facilitated by Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership

“I think it’s important to have many voices to express faith. And I want to demonstrate many different religions,” she said. “I hope to have interest from professional photographers who have approached this subject, as well as from a 12-year-old girl living in Yemen. I’m very much myself looking forward to just looking at photos of faith in order to put this together.”

 

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