Make Hanukkah Summit - an incredible experiment, every step of the way. After getting postponed due to the terrible wildfires in Northern California, we were grateful to arrive at the day we had planned for so long!
Summit participants chose one of four maker workshops, which were each designed and led by a team of an artist/maker and a scholar of Jewish text.
Workshop 1: Radiating Light - with Adina Polen and Ariel Mayse
Through selected Hasidic texts, and creating papercut lanterns, we will focused on the illumination of the menorah as embodying the "hidden light" of creation described in Jewish traditions and considered how this light can reveal the hidden miracles concealed in the ordinary world, and in ourselves. Thinking about the mitsvah of pirsumei nissa, of publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah and making it known to others, we considered how our inner qualities do -- or do not -- radiate outward into the public sphere as radical expressions of love and courage. Such reflections, embodied in our lanterns, were directed at guiding us to become storytellers and shapers of history through the act of making.
Workshop 2: A New Spin on Dreidle: Breaking and Remaking an Old Game with Natan Kuchar and Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Abraham Joshua Heschel encourages us to face the world from a stance of radical amazement. Participants in this workshop investigated Heschel's concepts of radical amazement and wonder, and applied them to create unique dreidle game play surfaces. Constructed with collaged textures, text, photos, mixed media, these served as a reflective artistic creation and a useable (foldable) board that elevates a holiday amusement to a shared activity that promotes dialogue, connection and reflection in community. This board ultimately disrupts the narrative we have heard in the past about the dreidle game, and encourages behaviors that are the reversal of the losing/winning goals the traditional game incites.
Workshop 3: On the Spirituality of Descent with Yosef Rosen and Aliza Weiss
To explore the Hanukkah theme of "we ascend in holiness and we do not descend in holiness" workshop participants looked at mystical texts that navigate the value of making occasional "descents," where we embrace the difficult parts of ourselves and the world around us. We then explored the kinetics and mechanics of descent & ascent by making paper circuit creations. This was a chance to integrate our mind, heart, and hands!
Workshop 4: Flickering Candles: Recasting the Hanukkah Story through Shadow Puppetry with Deena Aranoff and Daniel Barash
This workshop explored the many ways of telling the Hanukkah story. Participants dived into the living art of story-telling and the living symbolism of the Jewish holidays themselves. We began with an exploration of the four paradigmatic modes in which the Hanukkah tale is often told. We then created shadow puppets to bring our own versions of the Hanukkah story "to life" on the shadow puppet screen. Participants came away from the workshop with a new kind of storytelling practice and beautiful personal shadow puppet theater that can become part of family holiday celebrations for years to come.
The Make Hanukkah Summit was an experiment in shared investigation into a Jewish holiday along different pathways, and involving the collaborative wisdom of scholars, maker/artist educators, and the community. Its ultimate placement on the second to last day of Hanukkah allowed it to be one final immersion in the spirit and themes of the holiday. It was everything we imagined, but in real life, because of these specific magnificent human beings who gathered and learned together, was so much more. We’re so excited to continue experimenting with this conference/summit format in the future, and we’re excited for the reverberations from this making and learning to make their way out into the world, and ever deeper within us...
All workshop descriptions adapted from the descriptions written by their respective facilitators. All photos by Adina Polen unless otherwise noted.