EXHIBITION: In the Shadow of God… In the Footsteps of Bezalel

Art work by the TJM Artists’ Collaborative ~ September 8th – November 24th

Art work by the TJM Artists’ Collaborative ~ Participating Artists: Marlene D’Orazio Adler, Joanne Brown, Leon Chudzinski, Rob Dennis, Rhea Dennis, Rochelle Dinkin, Naomi Godel, Ricki Lent, Paula Mandel, Robyn Miller, Linda Nesvisky, Walter Plotnick, Rita Rosen Poley, Rosalind Reichstein, Joan Shrager, Karen Shain Schloss, Maxine Schwartz, Elissa Sunshine.

The Collaborative is composed of professional artists who are also members of Keneseth Israel (KI). There are currently 26 members who have undertaken and executed numerous TJM exhibition projects including the many commissioned art projects that beautify this building; they work with the TJM permanent collection; participate in outreach programming including projects with JQuest and Quest Noar; and are essential to our Arts Alive Gallery for our KI preschoolers, all in addition to their personal studio practice. Our most recent large-scale project was a 2022 exhibition on the subject of Global Warming that we organized for the Montgomery County Fine Art Center at Montgomery County Community College.  Our upcoming project is an installation for KI’s memorial garden. As you can imagine, just from the abbreviated list above, over the years these artists have willingly and generously offered their support both in front of and behind the scenes. TJM could not function without them. Keneseth Israel is enriched by their presence and contributions to our community’s cultural life.

Rita Rosen Poley, Director/Curator of The Temple Judea Museum

BEZALEL (Hebrew)בְּצַלְאֵל     “……in the shadow [under the protection] of God ”….

EXODUS: Chapter 31: 1-3 – And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri … and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship……


Marlene D’Orazio Adler Chair of the TJM Artists Collaborative

The Temple Judea Museum Artists’ Collaborative is a unique group of artists who are members of our synagogue. We trace our heritage back to Bezalel, who was the earliest documented artist in the Bible, Exodus 31:1-38:29. Bezalel was the chief artisan of the Tabernacle (the holy tent of meeting) who was assisted by Oholiab, his deputy. He was a skilled craftsman who worked with various materials such as precious metals and stones, as well as wood carving. He had many apprentices who worked with him as he instructed them in how to assist him. 

I like to use this story as a metaphor for the Temple Judea Museum Artists’ Collaborative and the Temple Judea Museum. The artworks in this exhibition show a variety of art forms and materials. We are in many ways like apprentices of Bezalel, working with Rita Rosen Poley, TJM director and curator of Temple Judea Museum. Individually, and as a Collaborative, we inspire each other to be creative, often basing our shared creative ideas on a theme or a planned exhibition. The Temple Judea Museum, within Keneseth Israel, is our tent, a spiritual dwelling place for us and for our artworks, reflecting Jewish ideas, historic and current, as well as our own personal connection to Judaism. We are following footsteps in the spirit of Bezalel.

Rita Rosen Poley, Director/Curator The Temple Judea Museum

Bezalel was the first artist in the bible. He is mentioned by name and was selected by God to create the sanctuary in the desert, the Holy Ark and all its decorations. It has always fascinated me that the bible names an artist. That he is “hired’ by the Almighty, and that the translation of his name from the original Hebrew, means, In the Shadow of God. Clearly, while the ten commandments prohibit the creation of graven images, at the same time, the work of an artist was valued enough to give one pride of place. Indeed, Bezalel and his creative work take up five biblical chapters!

This exhibition, In the Footsteps of Bezalel, showcases the Temple Judea Museum (TJM) Artists’ Collaborative, this synagogue’s own in-house arts group since 2008. In the past, works by these exceptional artists, when shown in this gallery, have been part of a themed exhibition or a one-person show. This is the first time Collaborative members as a group, share with our visitors a broader range of work, thus allowing us to get acquainted with a fuller sense of their artistic practice. Each was asked to include at least one work related to Jewish culture, history, practice or tradition.