A tie made out of an old tallit. An oil chanukiyah made out of repurposed light bulbs. A yad for reading the Torah made to look like a pixelated mouse icon for a Windows computer. These are all brainchildren of Israeli artist and designer Ken Goldman. Goldman, a modern Orthodox Jew now living on a kibbutz, uses his industrial design skills to reinvent Jewish ritual artifacts, from a crown on a Torah (he made one out of metal that doubles as a birdcage for two live doves) to a ner tamid, an eternal light, that you can plug into your computer’s USB port.
Goldman is also a performance artist, and he has some fantastic pieces. One, called “Chevrutah,” referencing the traditional method of learning Talmud with a partner, has two men standing facing each other on a rocking platform as they study. Another, “Jacob’s Ladder,” is a ladder being lifted up into the sky by a group of balloons. There’s even a piece called “With Without” where a man’s hair has been shaved so that all that remains is a circle in the shape of a yarmulke.
Goldman’s work is witty, provocative, and profoundly beautiful. It’s not available in your local synagogue gift shop yet, but we hope some it will be soon.
July 1, 2014