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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 Art and Design. We are now under the fiscal sponsorship of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.

JAI Executive Committee: Bill Aron, Melinda Smith Altshuler, Georgia Freedman-Harvey, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Anne Hromadka, Avi Roth and Ruth Weisberg, Chair

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 goal of Bread & Salt is to bring together numerous Jewish cultural sites throughout Southern California to explore contemporary, historical and ritual aspects concerning food. From farm to table so too from Sinai to our synagogues; what we eat and why we eat has impacted our people since the beginning of history. Jews and food encompasses everything from secular to religious culinary rituals, holidays, kashrut, social justice, biblical sacrifice, cultural identity, and both ancient and modern agricultural practices. Bread & Salt's purpose is to engage the community in this conversation creating fertile ground to explore the current Jewish foodscape, from multiple access points.

As part of the Bread & Salt project, JAI will be exhibiting the works of 18 Member Artists at USC Hillel from Friday, March 2 - Sunday, May 6, 2018.

E X H I B I T I N G   A R T I S T S

Renee Amitai, Shula Singer Arbel, Bill Aron, Lorraine Bubar, Ellen Cantor, Rhea Carmi, Yaron Dotan, Benny Ferdman, Karen Frimkess Wolff, Susan Geshundheit, Barry Gordon, Roger Gordon, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Rachelle Mark, Marlene Rubinstein, Masha Schweitzer, Ruth Weisberg, Jana Zimmer

Georgia Freedman-Harvey, Curator


Artists Reception: Sunday, April 8th from 4 - 6 p.m.

USC Hillel, 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles

A new group exhibition, would love to see you at the opening and/or artist talk with Zack Balber!!!


Curator and Art Adviser
Los Angeles-Tel Aviv

Dear Friends, I'm very happy to share the good news that LACMA has just acquired three more of my altered Polaroids for their collection.

This brings LACMA's total to four, as they had already purchased, Gold Field, 1984 as part of the Marjorie and Leonard Vernon Collection that was added to the Museum in 2008.

With best regards, Victor Raphael

Space Field (Black), 1991, metal leaf on Polaroid Spectra

Copper Pouring (Jackson Pollock series), 1987, acrylic on Polaroid Spectra

Abstraction #2, 1987, acrylic on Polaroid 600





ART IN THE ARTHOUSE proudly presents COOK UP A SOUP AND OTHER TALES, featuring the works of visual artist and educator BENNY FERDMAN. Laemmle Theatres invites the community to join Ferdman for an artist talk, slide show on the big screen and refreshments on January 28, 11 am at Laemmle’s Town Center 5. Most artwork is for sale at this free exhibit, which runs through May 2018.

Ferdman draws inspiration from the diverse narratives and cultural motifs of Eastern European Jewish culture that once expressed itself in Yiddish. Raised in L.A. by Polish Jewish immigrants, Yiddish was Ferdman's first language. His adventurous reclamation and reworking of Jewish iconography, folk motifs and the wonders of the human and natural world has brought him art residencies, commissions of large scale sculptures, museum exhibitions and installations, redesigns of synagogues, the design and fabrication of stage sets, the distribution of arts-based curricula throughout North America and Israel and now a solo show in his own backyard, Laemmle’s Town Center Theatre in Encino.


I'm delighted to share this with you. An image from one of my paintings, Threshold, 2004 was used for the first page of Sh'ma Now which is now part of the publication the Forward.

I am honored to be part of this January 2018 issue focused on 'Thresholds'. – Ruth 

Santa Monica's California Heritage Museum's ART QUILTS exhibit includes two of Sandra's pieces. Opening reception is Friday, December 8th, 6:30 - 9:30. Runs thru March 18.



Artist Ruth Weisberg explores the influences that have affected both her art and life.

Enjoy the Podcast - CLICK HERE

Ruth Weisberg, artist, Professor of Fine Arts and former Dean at the USC Roski School, is currently the Director of the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities and the founder and President of the Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California. She received the Printmaker Emeritus Award from the Southern Graphic Council International in 2015 and the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 50th Anniversary Cultural Achievement Award in 2011.

The Conney Conference on Jewish Arts was co-sponsored by the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities and the University of Wisconsin's Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies – held during the 4th week of March on the campus of USC. JAI Members played a major role in its success as 12 Artist or Curatorial members participated in or gave presentations.

Participating JAI members included: Bill Aron, Stacie Chaiken, Josh Feldman, Gilah Yelin Hirsch,
Andrea Hodos, Anne Hromadka, Rachel Kupferman, Sagi Refael, Lidia Shaddow,
Doni Silver Simons, Hillel Smith, Ruth Weisberg, Jana Zimmer