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Appreciating Communal Art in the Parashah and Today

This week's parashah, Parashat Vayakhel, calls all artists, craftspeople, and those whose hearts are moved to bring their talents and physical contributions to the Torah's most extraordinary community art project- the building of the Mishkan. These inspiring words are followed by many, many technical instructions: particular stones, materials, numbers of loops, etc. As a person who knows a thing or two about facilitating a communal art project, this resonantes. It takes a lot of planning and choreography to make space for everyone's contribution and to ensure the product is as beautiful as the intention. I love this parashah and hope it makes all community artists and art teachers feel seen.

 In this vein, I want to appreciate all the beautiful communal art projects that hang on our walls, grace our hallways, and serve as expressions of our values and talents. I appreciate:

  • The mural on the third floor, which our students and staff painted after outlining dozens of community members' bodies. 

  • The bedazzled frames around the fire exit signs painted and ornamented by other students. 

  • The cardboard skyline of our neighborhood on the fifth floor built by yet another group of students. 

  • The paper flower installation in the teachers' lounge installed by parents, each with a different message of gratitude. 

  • The birthday notes strung up outside a gan classroom, hung up by the parents and children of the class in honor of their teacher's 50th birthday. 

  • The flyers all over our middle school hallway encouraging others to compost, join the drama club, sign a nap time petition, join the Meatless March campaign, and read the school newspaper Beit RaBanter. 

  • The large whiteboard by the lockers that students have designated as a place to share birthday wishes for whoever is up next. 

  • The mosaic of notes of love and prayer for Israel and all those affected by war and the sign hanging up that reads, "I show up with Tikvah, hope, for the hostages, our soldiers, all civilians, and for peace." 

  • The sprawling rebuilt city of Shushan made from wooden blocks, small toys, and gems that covers a corner of a preschool classroom and is protected by very explicit signage. 

  • The growth mindset reminders and instructions made by groups of students. 

I especially appreciate the three large gold frames painted by a group of students that hang empty on the wall of our main reception area. I imagine these empty frames as inviting others, all those whose hearts are moved, to bring their talents and contributions to the larger "communal art project" that is Beit Rabban, as if their future wall space is being held for them. 

May our hearts always be moved to contribute to this community and all those concentric communities to which we belong. May we always feel appreciated for adding special contributions. May we always eagerly welcome the contributions of others. May we always step back and appreciate all the work that goes into building and sustaining a holy space, and may we always stand in awe of its beauty.

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