אמת | Emet, 2017   

 

"A golem looks and acts like a human and has many of the features of the humans, including the ability to understand and think.  What separates a golem from you and me is that it comes into being only through purely artificial means”, most famously, through the inscription of the word  אמת (emet / truth) on the creature’s forehead. (Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness.)

According to one legend, a golem was created by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel to protect the Jewish people and to be a force of benevolence.  The golem succeeds with this charge. However, as he grows stronger, he wields power and recklessness, becoming a monster untethered to the people he was created to serve. This golem, it is told, was nullified by Rabbi Loew when the first letter of the Hebrew word אמת was erased, leaving מת (met /death) inscribed on his forehead.

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This piece was originally commissioned by the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, CA as part of a show on Jewish ethics.  The curator asked me to create a piece addressing the Jewish middah (moral quality) of truth.  This is the work I created and the work that the curator later rejected, saying that "it was not appropriate for young audiences."  I found that amusing (and a bad cover up) since my 5 and 9-year-olds had been intimately involved in the process of making this work which had led to many courageous conversations.  The irony of them wanting something more neutral or "nice" was remarkable considering that this is a piece about truth and that the show itself was about moral qualities.  It became clear to me that the curator was under pressure not to offend the donors, some of whom were clearly Trump supporters.  Within 24 hours this piece was picked up by the Brooklyn Jewish Art Gallery in NY and was a featured piece in their show.  But the situation left me saddened considering what it means to live in a world where the fear of having courageous conversations, especially with young ones, and the discomfort of being faced with different perspectives is greater than the capacity to embrace the difficulty and say "yes, let's face this together."

 

 
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