Last month I travelled to Dallas for the funeral of a wonderful woman. She and her sister grew up in a small Texas town with my late mother-in-law. Though technically cousins, the three were closer than most sisters and, as her obituary fondly read, they were “a trio of women that created havoc wherever they went.”
Although there were only a handful of Jewish families (and no Temple) in this small east Texas city, their Jewish roots were strong. The entire Jewish community gathered for Passover Seders in a church basement. Shabbat services were held in rotating living rooms, and High Holy Day services meant a two-hour drive to the nearest congregation. A mohel was imported from Houston for the bris when my husband was born, the first Jewish male child born there in more than 21 years.
My son travelled with us to the funeral, and upon arrival he was hugged tightly by the remaining sister. “This is what I came for,” he told her. It made him feel like he was in grandma’s arms again.
The day before we left for the funeral, there was a baby shower for my son’s very pregnant wife. When I mentioned my travel plans to a friend, she quoted the circle of life, “a life taken, a new life begun.” I was comforted by the thought.
I was reminded of this exchange when I was told this week’s column would be about a new exhibit opening next month at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center.
Circles Within Circles – Jewish Time Frames, a collaboration of photography by Lloyd Wolf and poetry by Sherri Waas Shunfenthal. The innovative and beautifully thoughtful exhibit explores aspects of time as understood and expressed in Judaism.
According to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Torah sees the world in the dimension of time. While Western philosophy contends that time is linear, Jews live in circles – the circles of seasons, of histo- ry, traditions and family that connect us through the generations. We complete the reading of Torah each year and begin again at Simchat Torah – a complete circle. Ordinary time is separated from sacred time on Shabbat and Havdalah, and there is the constant daily cycle of prayer. Significant life events such as bris, b’nai mitzvah and death, also mark our evolution as individuals, as Jewish people in time.
Using photos and words, Wolf and Shunfenthal interpret these cyclical events, with themes that celebrate Jewish life, holidays and prayers.
Wolf is an award winning photographer based in Arlington, VA. He has had more than 100 national and international solo and group exhibitions, and has work included in the collections of numerous noted museums and archives. According to her Amazon web page, “Shunfenthal is a committed poet, a frequent speaker, a speech therapist, and she wants to fill the whole word with poetry.”
The opening reception is on Sunday, Oct. 14, in the Futernick Family Art Gallery at 10:30 a.m. The exhibit runs through Nov. 18.
For hours and more information, call 305- 271-9000, ext. 268, or log on to www.alperjcc.org