Talking Jewish Art and Culture
Arts — like faith — can lift the human spirit, buoy us during difficult times, and open up new worlds. A vibrant arts ecosystem is vital to the health of the Jewish community; this is why the Walter & Elise Haas Fund continues to support arts and culture through its Jewish Life program.
Recently, I spoke about this with some of my peers from other local funders. These exchanges took place as part of a series of national conversations supported by the Righteous Persons Foundation and convened by the Jewish Funders Network. We explored Jewish art and culture’s merit as a way to transmit history and values, build bridges between Jews and others, and grapple with challenging issues.
These talks brought to mind “Wrestling Jerusalem”, a one-man show the Fund supported, which is now playing festivals as a feature film. Taking on the roles of multiple individuals — Jews, Arabs, Americans, Palestinians, Israelis — writer and performer Aaron Davidman uses this work to create an opening for empathy. His masterful and creatively rendered storytelling fuels the same important dialogue.
The report linked below, Devising Strategies to Support Jewish Arts & Culture, documents the San Francisco conversation I took part in, as well as others in Los Angeles and New York. It highlights opportunities and barriers to funding in this arena. I share it with you now to extend this conversation and, in doing so, to help cultivate community.