These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on September 14, 2012 by David Bogomolny

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Over the summer, I worked for an amazing summer program called Genesis at Brandeis University. One of the programs that we developed for our participants was called ‘iDentity’, and each of the six community educators modeled this project for the community, each sharing something of ourselves in different media. The question we all had to answer was “What do I want you to know about me?”

“What do I want you to know about me?”

As a Pardesnik, I’m more inclined to use traditional texts in my presentations than artwork, but I felt that it would be important to show the participants an iDentity presentation that made use of visual art as a medium.

This image represents several major facets of my identity. The heart itself reflects openness and love, attitudes that I strive to nurture within myself. The large kippa on the upper left represents my deep connection to Jewish tradition, and the matryoshka doll represents my family’s Eastern European roots (my parents both left the USSR in the seventies). The doll’s apron is a U.S. flag because I grew up there, and continue to appreciate the opportunities and values that it provided me (the flowers on the apron are not symbolic – only decorative).

At the center lies Israel – the land of my birth and now my home – portrayed here as a large hole in the heart with cracks spreading out from it. The facets of my identity somehow connect in Israel – somehow all feel relevant here – but they are often in tension with one another, as are so many cultural and religious groups here in Israel. These tensions cracked the heart, but the hole glows with bright light – allowing love to stream forth.

I drew this picture for educational purposes, and I was surprised at how meaningful a project it became for me. Sharing my ‘iDentity’ presentation with the participants, and then guiding them through the processes of self reflection and self expression were some of the brightest highlights of my summer at the Genesis Program.