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The Jewish Artists Initiative (JAI) is an artist-run organization committed to fostering visual art by Jewish artists and promoting dialogue about Jewish identity and related issues among members of the arts community.

Mission and History

JAI was originally conceived by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles in partnership with the University of Southern California Casden Institute and the USC Roski School of Fine Arts. We are now under the fiscal sponsorship of Community Partners of Los Angeles.

Artists – you're welcome to apply for JAI membership. Please follow the instructions in our Selection Criteria for New Members, thank you.

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The ways in which artists incorporate religion and spiritual faith into their work are as diverse as the varieties of religious experience. While artworks intended specifically for religious contexts often contain explicit religious content and narratives, the artists on this panel frequently incorporate their beliefs for more personal reasons and often far more subtly. This panel explores some of the varied ways religion and art can intersect.


Jack Miles, distinguished professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of California at Irvine and Senior Fellow for Religious Affairs with the Pacific Council on International Policy. A Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur Fellow, Miles is author of God: A Biography and Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, and general editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions.


Ruth Weisberg is professor of fine arts and director of the Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities at the University of Southern California. Her paintings, drawings, and prints have been featured in over 80 solo exhibitions and are in the permanent collections of more than 60 museums. Weisberg's Jewish heritage informs much of her work.

Jose Bedia explores spirituality through large-scale figurative paintings, drawings, and installations. Bedia has practiced the Afro-Cuban religion Palo Monte since the early 1980s and his work includes references to pan-African spirituality and the indigenous Americas.

Junko Chodos draws inspiration from many religious traditions, including Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity, and Judaism. Her artistic production includes mixed media and collage, drawings on paper, and set design.

Makato Fujimura, an artist and writer rooted in traditional Japanese painting, exhibits internationally and lectures as an arts advocate across the globe. His work has included illuminating the Four Holy Gospels and collaborating with musicians and theologians to reflect his engagement with Christianity.

The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles




Dori Atlantis and I have an installation of our piece called "Return Home"
in connection with a show called: In a Word, text based art, curated by
South Bay Contemporary Gallery. The gallery is located at 550 Deep Valley Drive,
#151, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274. Our piece is upstairs and across
from the gallery in the window of store 269.

Artist Reception for the window installation will be May 4, in the afternoon.




Curated by Anne Hromadka



"Heart and Soul"

Galleria at Hillcrest Center for the Arts, 403 W. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, CA

Featured Artists: JAI Members Erella Teitler and Debra Sokolow

Artists' Reception: March 22

Exhibition dates: February 14 thru May 6, 2014

Curators: Connie Tunick and Janet Amiri


Collecting the COSMOS

January 24 - May 31, 2014


USC Doheny Memorial Library

3550 Trousdale Parkway, University Park Campus, Los Angeles


An Exhibition Exploring the Intersection of Art and Science


Artists Reception: January 24th, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Dean Catherine Quinlan and the Friends of the USC Libraries invite you to a reception
for Collecting the Cosmos. On display will be ten new works by Southern California-based
artists Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada, whose images remix themes
of space and time, folklore and religion, quantum mechanics and microbiology,
in the process uncovering a hidden universe of knowledge.


RSVP and receive free parking

For more information contact Patty Johnson at pajohnso@usc.edu
or call (213) 821-1153


Parking: enter campus through Gate 3 at USC McCarthy Way,
between Jefferson and Exposition on Figueroa Street



Click to Purchase this Publication


Ikebana Series will be featured in the upcoming Venice ARTBLOCK Open Studio Tours...

Save The Date: Sunday, May 4th, 2014  |  11 a.m. - 6 p.m.


SandyBleifer.com  |  email


The vibrARTion Project·Tianjin 2013 “Forms of the Formless” Exhibition of International Contemporary Art travels to MOCA Beijing in May 2014

Artists: Dai Guangyu, Jing Yumin, Jing Shijian, Qin Feng, Wang Yiqiong, Cui Xianji, Qin Chong, Li Yongzheng, Tan Xun, Yang Liming, Huang Zheng, GuanJingjing, LitaAlbuquerque, Annetta Kapon, Francesca Mitterrand, Bonita Helmer, Luc Leestemaker

Sponsors: Nanjing Qinghe Contemporary Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing, China Sculpture Institute, China Internet Information Center


Begin from the “form”,
Begin within the formless.

With “form,”

With the form of “non-being,”

With the form of “formless,”

To create image beyond form,

To produce great image beyond image.


"The formless" is an important concept in traditional Chinese philosophy. The Book of Change has stated, "...celestial bodies move to shape in the sky and landscapes are formed on the earth", and Tao Te Ching also has it that “great form is formless". The exhibition “Forms of the Formless” presents such a group of artists: their ultimate intention is not to make visual “forms” but to spiritually experience the oriental philosophy, intentionally or not. The artworks are records of their dialogues with the inner self and the existence of being; they have gone beyond the visual “form,” and become “image”: the image of formless, the great image beyond image.






JAI artist Bonita Helmer also has several larger works in this special show.

All on display through May 2014



Hal Goldberg's Holocaust Memorial Sculpture


In September 2012 Hal Goldberg's  sculpture, "They will never be forgotten: Serge and Beate Klarsfeld and Marceline Kogan" was installed at the Camp Des Milles Holocaust Memorial Museum in France. The sculpture also depicts the books the Klarsfelds have written.

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld are famous Nazi hunters based in Paris, and Marceline Kogan was a two year old child rounded up in the infamous Paris "Rafle" in 1942 and killed in Auschwitz.

Camp des Milles was a French internment camp in a former tile factory near  Aix-en-Provence.  Between 1941 and 1942 it  was used as a transit camp for Jews. About 2,000 of the inmates were shipped off to the Drancy internment camp on the way to Auschwitz. Since 1993, the site served as a World War II memorial, and in September 2012  the memorial was turned into a Holocaust memorial museum. 
















Weisberg's Visions

A wonderful overview of Ruth Weisberg's work in the New York Jewish Press:

"There is a special class of Jewish artists who toil in the rich fields of Tanach and Jewish practice for years and years, quietly establishing a foundation of visual and intellectual markers for generation of artists to come. Ruth Weisberg is clearly one of these founders. Her seminal work articulates an approach to the Jewish narrative deeply informed by a Jewish feminism."










...Has been invited to become a member of the MIT International Kepes Society, as well as the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.  The letter of invitation cites her art, science, publications and films. MIT is also publishing Hirsch's manuscript, Artist as Scientist in a Reflective Universe, in the April, 2014 Leonardo Journal.

In September 2013 Hirsch presented Ominous to Numinous: Cultural Contradictions and Indigenous Truths: Ritual, Induction, Intentionality, Placebo, and Image in Global Healing at the International Society for Shamanic Research (ISSR) Conference, (“Traditional Rituals and Spiritual Harmony in the Changing Globalized Word”), in Guiyang, China, sponsored by the Guizhou Institute for Advanced Study in Anthropology and Ethnology (GIASAE) at Guizhou Normal College, supported by the International Culture Exchange Center (CICE) and co-sponsored by Guizhou Normal College and Guizhou International Culture Exchange Center (GICEC)



unexplained phenomena project book


unexplained phenomena project is a collaboration between Victor Raphael and David Jordan Williams. The series includes images from around the world and explores extraordinary, mysterious encounters with the unknown. unexplained phenomena project hopes to elicit in the viewer the idea that we should not rule out the unexplained or the exceptional when considering what is real and what we know.


39 color images, essay by Judith Margolis, and an introductory note from Robbie Robertson.

E-book includes the video, unexplained phenomena: Los Angeles (3:24)


Enhanced ebook with video and printed edition both available here