In Rabbi Schwarz’s book Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future, he uses four themes to organize the Jewish future. All of the themes—chochma, tzedek, kehilla, and kedusha—appear regularly, powerfully, and imaginatively in the spectrum of work of hundreds of Jewish artists who are supported by Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council. Work accomplished by musicians, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, choreographers, playwrights, and multimedia artists.
What’s noteworthy is the absence of artists in the rabbi’s depiction of what constitutes Jewish life in Twenty-First century America. Where are the artists, and why are they excluded or marginalized? This, in fact, is the conundrum that caused Rimon to come into existence more than twenty years ago. Jewish artists felt invisible or, at best, marginalized by the organized Jewish community.
Twenty-plus years into our endeavor Rimon has made significant strides in bringing artists into the center of Jewish community life, placing them at the decision-making tables of nearly every Jewish agency in the Twin Cities. Our method has been through high-impact collaborations, grassroots funding, arts advocacy, education, and creative alliances that build community in lasting ways. The budget has been small; the outcomes have been manifold.
If there is an engine of change at work in American Jewish life, one would be negligent to ignore the capacities of Jewish artists in helping break that new ground.
David Jordan Harris has been Executive Director of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council since 2004 and is interfaith arts special consultant for the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas. Integrating his skills as a singer, actor, and dancer, he has appeared as guest artist with numerous companies including Zorongo Flamenco, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the Minnesota Opera.
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