“And then I realized that everything I thought was infinite actually depends on something else. The only thing that’s infinite is dependence.” Ooph. Zahdi’s words definitely rang true for me, especially over our virtual Zoom classroom. Lots of things have changed over the past few months, but some have stayed constant. In February, we went as a cohort to the Penn Hospital Gardens and meditated by talking individually with God. This practice, hitbodedut, literally means self-isolation! Even though we aren’t able to meet in person now, we’ve continued to delve into our ideas about God. This culminated in the cohort presenting their latest Rosh Pinah projects, pieces of art that expressed their own personal theologies, to all of Makom Community over Zoom. Their artist statements and some excerpts of their incredible art are here.
I made electric music because it changes like God and isn’t exactly defined like God for me. I made three drawings each with a meaning that represents what I think: the first (a galaxy) is tradition, the second (a campfire) not physically real, and the third (an abstract drawing) out of the box and different.
My project is a painting that changed as my ideas of god changed throughout the period of time that I was working on it. My idea of god has always had the same main idea: God is infinite. At first, I tried to make the topic of infinity easier to comprehend/show in my painting by showing other infinite things but soon I realized that nothing is infinite but dependence, everything I sketched depended on something else to be infinite. I still kept the same main things in the picture but now looked at it with a different mindset.
I chose to make several online drawings because that was a medium that I was not especially good at yet. I wanted to step into territory that was unfamiliar to me, trusting that meaningful and creative ideas would come to me. That is similar to thinking about God; we have no idea whether they are real or not, or if they notice and care about us. But still we put some amount of trust in them, and sometimes that is what gets us through adversity.
Zoey & Remi
All Things God
All things God
Because of God we were
Created in the image of God, B’tzelem Elohim
Deciding our future as Jews
Even when we disobey you, you are our God
Forgiving and powerful
Here to guide me through tough times
I have opinions you may not want to hear
Just because sometimes I disagree, doesn’t mean you aren’t my God
Knowing about you, God, is difficult
Listening to your stories, your image becomes more powerful
My feelings are as mixed as challah dough
Never were you only one thing, you came back as another
On top or below or even in the middle
Peace and Harmony
Quiet, loud, all these different sounds are all you
Remi is amazed by your powers in the stories
So, do you respond? Or just leave me on read?
Too hard to know if you exist
Under pressure to decide
Violence came down from you to free us
Why haven’t I felt that connection
Xenodochial is one way I thought of you, but I can never be sure
You are one confusing topic
Our project combines parodies, music, and a poem. Our inspiration was the difference between Torah’s views on God and our personal opinions on God. The meaning of the parodies was to show what we have learned about Torah’s beliefs about God. The meaning behind our sounds on GarageBand was to show that God can be loud or quiet and to show what we think of God’s personality, like God’s connection with nature and animals. The acrostic poem was all our opinions and questions on God. We wanted this piece to contain a few of our opinions on what or who God is and Torah’s opinion on that.
I am so inspired by the deep thought the cohort put into these projects. Our personal relationships to the idea of God are so unique and I’m excited to see how they might grow and change in the years to come. In every partnership, there are two sides. As we’ve explored the idea of God, we now turn to explore ourselves. The cohort will be taking their revelations from this project to their next Rosh Pinah project, focused on Jewish approaches to mental health. I can’t wait to see what they create!