The Art of Jewish Expression



February 8, 2024

For as long as Judaism has existed, Jews have created art as a way of expressing and engaging with religious life and tradition. 

While I grew  up in a modern Orthodox community, a big part of my adult life has been forming friendships in a variety of Jewish spaces, exploring the diversity of the Jewish community. Becoming a student at NYU and connecting with my campus Hillel at New York University (NYU) showed me that the entire Jewish world can be in one building, and be respectful of each other despite — and even because of — our differences.

Art created in partnership with Hillel International for Pride 2023.

During a trip back to Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem, the school where I had spent my gap year, I found myself constantly thinking about the diversity of the Jewish community in Israel, and the diverse ways that Judaism and Jewish identity is expressed there. When I’m in New York, I have found it difficult to create the exact image of the Jewish community that I am seeking.

When I asked myself what I was missing, and what I needed to bring back with me, Havurah was born.

A virtual sukkah that welcomes all kinds of Jews.

Havurah is a community of Jewish creatives who see art as a mechanism for engaging with the Divine and as a crucial part of Jewish spiritual practice. Havurah is about seeing Judaism as a creative experience in and of itself, as a medium and form of expression.

Judaism has always guided my art. I see my work as engaging with an intergenerational conversation, touching on something ancient even as I use modern digital design tools and technology. Intentionally building the Havurah community has opened ways for me to explore Judaism in art and in my life in ways I had never imagined before. Just like studying Talmud is an active conversation about Jewish tradition and identity, creating Jewish art is engaging in that same conversation — just through a different medium. 

Since October 7, I’ve thought more and more about what our Jewish community looks like, and who it serves. Our communal response to that tragic day has shown the need for Jewish communities that are designed to sustain themselves, to keep themselves going even when times are hard. I believe that artistic expression is key to our Jewish future, and key to helping our communities thrive.

Any art form can be Jewish, and any Jewish expression can become art. What will you create?