Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Meeting at the Well: Israeli Artists Examine Water

Lab 2.0 5/19/2015 by Susan Weinberg
Our lab session today explored our theme of water as it relates to Israel and the ways in which Israeli art deals with this theme that is so central to Israeli life.

Phil Rosenbloom and Suzanne Fenton began the session with a quick view of artworks they had gathered by Israeli artists that relate to water. As they showed the image briefly we were to write one word that came to mind. That was our introduction to a variety of work to which we returned later in the session.

We then surveyed some of the leading artists who deal with themes of water. One of the most fascinating has to be Sigalit Landau. She views her work as a bridge maker and uses not only water as a medium, but salt, a central image of the Dead Sea. We viewed several videos of her work.

Salted Lake uses shoes as metaphor, shoes constructed of salt from the Dead Sea. These shoes are then placed on a frozen lake in Gdansk, Poland and through time-lapse photography she captures them as they melt and "drown" in the water. The sounds of the port change to a cold whistling wind as day turns to night and the shoes slowly sink. It reminded several of us of the Budapest memorial of shoes along the Danube.

Another work by Landau is titled Dead See and presents an aerial view of a raft of watermelons floating on the Dead Sea as they slowly unwind. In the midst is the naked body of the artist as she reaches to several watermelons that are sliced open, exposed as she is to the stinging salt.

In Mermaids she presents a video of three nude women on the border between Gaza and Israel scratching the sand as they are pulled back into the water. Slowly their woman-made created border disappears.

Other work that we viewed included Yaacov Agam's Fire and Water Fountain at Dizengoff Square and the Dale Chihuly sculpture of Fire and Water at the Aish HaTorah World Center at the Western Wall.

We examined water issues in Israel and the resolve to innovate to address the perennial shortage. The Sea of Gallilee accounts for 30% of drinking waters supplemented by aquifers, reservoirs, groundwater and desalination plants. Groundwater comes from two main aquifers, the Coastal aquifer and the Mountain aquifer. Both lie under the Palestinian territory, in Gaza and the West Bank respectively. More than half of Israel's total natural water originates outside of its borders in Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank.

Alexander Kushnir, Head of the Water Authority spoke of the accomplishment that 80% of purified sewage goes back to agricultural use, far in excess of the 18% of Spain, the next most successful. Despite many successful innovations, Israel is still challenged when rainfall declines and desalination has become the focus, albeit a controversial one. Green organizations are concerned that more saline will be pumped back into the sea altering its composition.

We shifted our attention to how the well and climate has shaped Biblical history. Wells are a frequent image within the Bible. Hagar in the wilderness with her son Ishmael runs out of water and await death when God opens her eyes to a well before her (Genesis 21:19).

Joseph is thrown down a well by his jealous brothers (Genesis 37:12-36) and is ultimately rescued and goes on to become viceroy of Egypt.

Often the well is the place where the patriarchs met the matriarchs, happy hour at the watering hole. Rebekah and Isaac meet at the well (Genesis 24: 11-20) as do Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29:2-10).


The concept of the well is celebrated through ritual. At Sukkot there is a water ritual known as the Rejoicing at the Place of the Water Drawing. The celebration, and it is truly a celebration with music, dance and juggling, is based on Isaiah's promise, " With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3)

We returned to the images that we viewed at the beginning and focused upon work by Avital Geva in the Greenhouse Project. His work with school-age children, both Jewish and Arab, is focused on building coexistence projects. They study recycling water combining science and art installations. We also viewed a video of Spencer Tunick's Nude Dead Sea shoot, designed to focus upon the theme of water in Israel. The video gave the sense of a social gathering as participants gradually grew comfortable with this massive skinny dip in the Dead Sea.

As we shared our one word describing each piece, we found that we filtered our reaction through our own experience, sometimes with widely diverging responses, other times quite similar.

We concluded our session with a photo shoot of sorts. Various vessels were provided containing water and we were invited to photograph them and send the photos to Phil who will take the images and compose them into a larger collage-like image of an oasis. Soon we were manipulating the water, pouring, spilling, splashing into images of fluidity.

 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mayim, Mayim

May 8, 2015 by Susan Weinberg
Our Artists' Lab retreat began with a gathering at the All My Relations Gallery. We were fortunate to catch the show shortly before it came down as it tied closely to our topic of water. The show The Art of Indigenous Resistance: Inspiring the Protection of Mother Earth brought together work by twenty artists that examined the power of activism through art.

Graci Horne, the new director and curator of the gallery, talked of the Native American tradition of caring for Grandmother Earth. In this tradition water is very sacred. She recalled that when she was growing up she was told that some day there would be wars over water. She noted that where her tribe is located is the second largest aquifer in the US and there is fighting between those who want to drill. The drilling company seeks water rights while their opponents allege that drilling is likely to contaminate the water, the source of drinking water for the nearby cities. The focus of Native Americans is to unify people and remind them of their responsibility for the earth.

Camille Gage then spoke about her project I Am Water, an interactive public artwork that challenges people to consider their relationship to our planet's fresh water. Camille noted that 80-90% of marine pollution is plastic. Plastic beverage holders take 400 years to disintegrate.

Camille spoke to a number of threats to our water supply. Monsanto's Roundup, the number 1 selling weed killer was recently reported by the World Health Organization as a "probable carcinogen".

She spoke about the commodification of water and shared a quote from Nestle's Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe in which he notes "water is the most valuable food stuff on the planet" as if it were made in a factory. She noted that it takes 1.5 gallons of water to make the plastic that holds the water. Nestle's benefits from this commodification of water, making $7B annually on global water sales.

More than two thirds of the Bakken oil fields production is shipped through Minnesota, over 23 million gallons daily. This highly flammable shipment has already caused serious explosions. 

Mining is declining on the Range and attention has begun to shift to creation of new jobs when mines are capped. Mining versus environmental protection remains a volatile subject. Camille called for reframing the discussion to have a dialogue that respects the historic contribution of miners even as we look at what it will be in the future.

She shared a number of artworks that deal with water including Bodies on Ice, Basin, the Overpass Light Brigade and Ananya Dance Theater. Camille also shared her experience as a water walker. A water walker walks a body of water and each step is a prayer. They carry a copper vessel of water and in presence and prayer make their statement.
We also have an opportunity to add our prayers for the water. Camille is doing a community art project that invites people to imagine a body of water they feel close to, write a prayer or wish for the water and paint an image on the other side. She is collecting these wishes/prayers in an installation that continues to grow.

We concluded our visit with an impromptu dance to the song Mayim Mayim. The words mean "With joy shall you draw water from the wells of deliverance". And one last group photo.
Fridley Softening Plant Wall Map
After savoring the renowned corn pancakes at Maria's Cafe, several of us traveled on to the second part of our retreat, a visit to the City of Minneapolis Public Water Works. A special thanks to Kris Prince who recommended this visit which proved to be a fascinating glimpse at the process behind the tap.

The buildings were actually spread across a campus that had been constructed over many years. The river ran alongside the buildings, a location that was of course critical to the function they performed.
In the lobby of the Fridley Softening Plant we met George, the Water Quality Plant Manager who took us on a tour of the facilities. A map was on the walls of the process and the locations where each process occurred. We were to learn that the color coding was significant with dark green representing untreated river water, light green- softened water, brown- the sludge that is taken out and blue-the drinkable water. We later were to learn that even some of the machines were color coded in a similar fashion.

George advised us that the plant serves 500K people and that 50M gallons a day were treated although capacity is 140M. Water usage has in fact fallen as people have begun to manage it more effectively.

Grates in Station 5 with River Below
River outside Station 5
The water goes through several processes to soften, filter and purify it. He noted that around 1910 people started dying from typhoid because of the water and they began to chlorinate it to purify it. Typhoid deaths fell to zero. The filters are .02microns and don't allow e-coli to get through. A human hair by contrast is about 100 microns. Two thirds of the water goes through Fridley with the balance going through Columbia Heights. There are built in redundancies so they are always pumping.

Station 5-sludge goes into green containers
We walked over to Station 5 where the river ran next to the building. George pointed out a sluice gate from 1920. The river water flows in below and was visible in the grates beneath our feet. It then goes through filters and the sludge is captured within green containers. Sludge is sold to farmers to put on their fields.
Pumping Room

After a visit to the Pumping Coordination Center we entered the Pumping Room. Here the green pumps represent river water going to the softening plant. The blue pumps represent clean water.
We returned to the Softening Plant and stepped into the basement. There giant pipes snaked across the building which had actually been constructed around the pipes.









Lime slakers
Minneapolis draws its water from the Mississippi River so has no water shortage. Water comes out of the river and runs back into it. Surrounding suburbs rely on groundwater which flows back into the river. Thus they are more challenged by potential water shortages. The MPCA has proposed that suburbs contract with the city or build their own plant to bring in river water.

Within the softening station we stopped by the area in which this occurs, the lime slakers. The room was dusted in white from the lime which plays an important role. Lime is added to soften the water. It then precipitates out of the water bringing an equivalent amount of calcium with it. George showed us three containers, one with lime, one with alum and one with carbon. The lime removes the hardness, the aluminum sulfate removes what the lime doesn't and the carbon removes taste and odor. In a nearby room, we were shown the computer station where the monitoring occurs. Although much of the equipment dates to earlier times, the computer technology allows them to work with a more minimal staff.

Our final stop was the precipitators. Here hardness materials settle to the bottom and are pumped out. The softened water overflows to collector flumes. Again the buildings were constructed around the giant precipitators. Skylights reflected in the water creating a distorted sense of space.

By the conclusion of our visit we had a much more visceral sense of the process behind the tap, a process that we have often been isolated from in our daily life.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Deep Waters

Joint Session 4/28/15 by Susan Weinberg
Our session began with a question posed by Rabbi Davis on doubt. Do we feel doubt as an artist? Many of us spoke of the self-doubt we experience when going public, when viewing the work of a talented artist or when seeking validation in a profession that doesn’t always get recognized as “real work”.

“How can we not feel doubt?” I thought. Artwork is so interwoven with who we are. It is not something that can easily be disassociated from its creator. While we savor the occasional success by whatever measure we define success, not everything we do achieves that level. I often remind myself that I’m in process as are my artworks. The mythical pinnacle that exists in my head is something that I may not achieve in this lifetime. Instead I must accept that doubt is part of the process.

We turned our attention to some midrashim that examine doubt. One explored the binding of Isaac and introduces Satan to sow doubts within Abraham on his journey to Mount Horeb. Satan turns himself into an old man, a young man and finally a wide stream that Abraham must cross on his way to Mount Horeb. Each time he tries to dissuade Abraham from following God's command to sacrifice his son, an argument that sounds quite plausible to modern sensibilities. As Abraham reaches the middle of the stream, the water rises to his neck and he calls out to God. “I am come into deep waters (Ps 69:3). If either I or Isaac were to drown, who will fulfill Your commands, and by whom will the uniqueness of Your Name be proclaimed?” (Midrash Tanhuma, Va-yera’22). It is at this juncture that God reassures him and causes the stream to dry up.

Even as we discussed this stream of life or death we were distracted by a stream of people gathering outside, a funeral. Nearby children played. Surrounded by streams of life and death, we live in the midst.

An 18th century Chassidic text is related by Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Effrayim, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. The Barriers to the Palace tells of a king who constructed a network of barriers to his palace. Illusions of walls, fire and rivers blocked the way, but disappeared when his son plunged into the river. What are we to make of these stories?

Our theme of water represents doubt, a barrier, and calls upon us to sink or swim or perhaps just float. We spoke of diving into doubt as a pathway. In any case we must confront it and work with it to get to the other side. It was observed that 98% of our body is water, yet we think of ourselves as solid, an illusion we live with daily. The divine is present in everything, even barriers to God or to our artistic path. There is holiness in doubt. It is the pause that forces us to reassess, to clarify our purpose and our direction. To question and reaffirm our path.

Alison being water
For the second portion of our session Liba proposed an exercise to talk about the work that we are creating for our exhibition. We broke into groups and were charged with speaking about our work as if we were our work, actually living within the piece. For example, I spoke of being a river of memory, constrained by my banks, layered, changing and a bit omnipotent as I flooded my banks, destroying the land mass that I had shaped. It was an interesting exercise in giving voice to our work quite literally. It reminded me a bit of dream analysis where you project yourself into the elements of your dream. In this case we took our work which is truly a reflection of ourselves and imagined what it would be to actually be the work.




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dealing with Drought

Lab 2.0. April 21, 2015 by Susan Weinberg

We began our lab on water with a discussion of its absence, drought. With California in its fourth year of drought, it is by no means a hypothetical topic. Diane Pecoraro introduced our topic by playing an excerpt from Tom Paxton's song Whose Garden is It which aptly addresses the loss of the natural world we so often take for granted.

Bonnie Heller then referenced the way in which the Torah addresses water within Deuteronomy 11:13-21 where rain is offered in exchange for faithfulness to God's commandments. This important passage is echoed in the daily prayer book. We discussed the concept of retribution implicit in this passage, a search for cause and effect by a people reliant upon agriculture and water. 


Rabbi Mychal Copeland offers a thoughtful response to this passage when she says, "When we stop being grateful for every sip of water, when we forget how blessed we are in whatever degree of bounty we receive, we are in danger of overuse and exploitation." A number of our group had lived in Israel at one point and spoke to how conditioned they became to not be wasteful of water. There were prayers for dew and prayers for rain that began to make sense in a climate that often lacked enough water. In fact drought can arise from greed and can be the natural consequence of failing to manage a limited and precious resource.

Bonnie introduced the story of Choni, the circle maker which intrigued many of us. The story is that when the people needed rain, they called on Choni who was the most righteous of people. He drew a circle around him and and petitioned God for rain. First he received a trickle and asked for more, only to receive a deluge. He protested once more and received the desired amount, neither too much nor too little. There is yet another story of Choni who fell asleep for 70 years. As he was falling asleep he saw a man planting a carob tree only to awake seventy years later to the man's grandson picking its fruit.


Bonnie shared a quote with us from President Lyndon Johnson when he signed the Wilderness Act of 1964. "If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it." It seemed as if it could easily have been said today over 50 years later. 


Diane then led us in a word exercise where we were asked to identify words or images associated with drought, both the lack of water and the drought of creativity that many of us can face as artists. We offered such words as bone dry, barren, parched, arid, dry spell, dessicated, dust cloud and cracked.

We turned our attention to several poems that touched on drought and saw many of the words we had identified. Diane took the topic deeper by reading two excerpts from her journal, one from a period of creative drought and the other from a later time when creativity flowed anew. It was noted that two words within her passages captured the difference going from "withered" to "juiced".


We were posed a number of questions. What does creative drought feel like? What causes it?
Many of us experienced it when we allowed ourselves to feel the weight of expectations, our own or the perception of others. To create we need room to fail and we need the freedom to play and experiment. When we let panic take over it shuts down the very playfulness we need to extricate ourselves from our drought.

What starts the juices going again? Some spoke of needing to leave room for periods of fertile emptiness before "the fields will come back". Often we find it when we aren't looking.


While Bonnie was in California recently she collected many newspapers that spoke of drought. She turned us loose with them to create a collage or poem of words that spoke to this topic. I quite like what we came up with.


We were left with a number of poems that address both creative drought and drought in the more literal sense. Some of their links are found below:


The Greening of Imagination by Rural Poet
The Drought by Gary Soto
Drought by Joan Colby
Bop After Hip Op by Sharon Olds

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Saga of Twists and Turns

Woman With Fan-Matisse
Joint Lab April 14, 2015 by Susan Weinberg

Both Labs gathered this week to attend a lecture at the Weisman Museum by Yehudit Shendar on the topic entitled The Insatiable Pursuit of Art. Shendar has retired from a seventeen year career at Yad Vashem in the course of which she served as Deputy Director, Senior Art Curator and Director of their Holocaust Art Museum. 

 She shared with us the details of her "retirement career". In 2013 a cache of 1400 works of art were seized from Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of an art dealer permitted to trade in modern art during the Nazi era. Shendar was appointed to an international task force charged with researching the provenance of the artworks. Given that it took them a year and a half to validate four works, this is likely a career for life.

Shendar has ties to the Twin Cities having received a masters in Art History from the U of M. She worked at the Weisman before it was the Weisman as we know it today.Shendar traced the unfolding of the Gurlitt case and its many twists and turns. It began as Gurlitt traveled from Zurich to Munich carrying 9000 Euros. The authorities followed the money and discovered the art. Originally it was treated as a tax evasion case and kept private for two years.Eventually it became apparent that this was a much larger issue and Dr. Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, previously Deputy State Secretary of Culture in Germany was also pulled from retirement to head the task force. It was agreed that the statute of limitations would not apply to this work.

After the discovery of the Munich Trove, further discoveries arose. There were 238 works located in Gurlitt's Salzburg residence which previously had been searched and nothing discovered. Apparently the works were in an area that was not searched. Must be quite the residence! A separate team was appointed for the Salzburg trove. Still later a Monet was discovered in an abandoned suitcase at a hospital where Gurlitt had been. The artwork located thus far can be viewed at the lost art database.

In the midst of these discoveries the ownership was further thrown into question by the death of Cornelius Gurlitt. The foundation of the Kunst Museum in Bern was named as the sole beneficiary in a will written two months before Gurlitt's death. The museum accepted the bequest. A tri-party agreement was made between the Bavarian Minister for Justice, the Federal Commission for Culture and the Media and the Bern Museum of Art where it was agreed that the museum will retain anything where there is no claim. If there is inconclusive provenance the work will stay in Germany. 

Of course relatives protested the will and claimed that Gurlitt was not of sound mental health. Despite this competing claim the Bern Museum was declared the rightful owner by the German court. 

Documents from Gurlitt's art dealer father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, were found to have been removed from the Salzberg home before Gurlitt's death. Of course these documents would be very useful in determining provenance, but it was only now that the task force had access to them. They have since been digitized.

The looting of art by the Nazis was a well orchestrated operation at the highest levels. Hitler and Goering wanted to build a museum in Linz, Austria, the town of Hitler's birth. Goering had built a mausoleum named Carinhall after his late wife and moved many artworks to this location. Alfred Rosenberg headed up the ERR which was assigned the task of confiscating valuable cultural property held by Jews. At the Nurenberg trial Rosenberg claimed it was not looting as it was not taken privately, but at the behest of the state to protect cultural objects. Artwork was hidden at Aschbach Castle to protect it from Allied bombing. In 1945 when the Monument Men questioned Hildebrand Gurlitt, he reinvented himself as a victim of the Nazis. He claimed his grandmother was Jewish and he acted to save the art. In fact his grandmother was Jewish, but he was hardly a victim. Ultimately the Monument Men returned much of his art to him not fulling appreciating the scope of his involvement. Much of the confiscated art that Hildebrand Gurlitt worked with was sold to the United States to fund the Nazi war effort.

At this time Switzerland, Austria and Germany are working together with the German government playing the most significant role as they fund the task force and will have to release art to Bern. A few pieces have been cleared for release to descendants of survivors. Woman with Fan by Matisse (top of page) was found to belong to the art dealer Paul Rosenberg and has been released to his granddaughter. Max Lieberman's painting of Two Riders on a Beach was released to the descendants of David Friedmann, its prior owner. While Lieberman died prior to the war, his widow committed suicide prior to her deportation.

Guritt has occasionally sold artwork in order to fund his life. Amazingly he sold a Max Beckman for 200,000 Euros in the midst of this controversy.

The question was asked "Why Bern?" Shendar noted that Switzerland was the main agent for French art confiscated and sold to the US.

This saga with its many twists and turns promises to continue for years to come. The fact that seventy years have passed and knowledge has been lost means that it is likely that many paintings may not be returned to the descendants of the original owners.

For other reading on these topics please reference:
Lady in Gold by Ann Marie O-Connor
The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel 

Movies titled Woman in Gold and The Monuments Men have also been produced on both topics.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Netilat Yadyim (Hand Washing)

3/24/15 Lab 1.0 by Robyn Awend

We began the Lab with Rabbi Davis leading us in a song based on Psalm 145:16 by Rabbi Shefa Gold: Poteiah et yadekah u-masbiah l’kol hai razon – You open Your Hand, I open my heart to his abundance; and all life, all will is satisfied.  After several rounds of this communal singing, we explored various forms of hand washing – purity vs. spiritual preparation (to serve others and G-d):
We discussed excerpts from the following books:

·       Sefer HaHinnukh, Mitzvah 106

We also looked at Exodus 30:13-19 and discussed the holy vessel, the bronze laver, referencing commentary and shared thoughts.  


“Netilay Yadyim can help you raise up your reason for living each day. Instead of just “getting by”in life, you have the chance to take action for a higher purpose, to experience avodah (being of service) – by Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried.

We then set an intention for using our hands and went around the table and completed the following sentence. “My hands are for -----?” Some of the responses included, “creating, giving, lifting, loving, connecting, etc.”

We then read, Bless These Hands by Diann Neu, from EarthPrayers. In closing, Rabbi Davis walked us through the 4 step procedure for washing one’s hands and invited us to join him as we sang the melody by Rabbi Shefa Gold once again.

Following Rabbi Davis, Liba presented us with a table filled with colorful paints and a variety of hand washing vessels. We were invited to take a vessel and begin to make it our own. As the group painted and adorned, we discussed hand washing rituals at our own homes and special traditions that are celebrated during Passover, as it nears. At the end of the session, there was a beautiful variety of hand washing vessels, each one unique with its own story. I look forward to using mine this Shabbat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Water Rituals

Kos Miriam  sketch by Susan Armington
3/17/2015  Lab 2.0  by Susan Weinberg


What is ritual and why do we do it?

Thus started our latest session of the Artists' Lab led by Rani Halpern and Alison Morse.

It adds structure we replied. It brings things to mind, presents a physical way to tap spirituality. It brings meaning and order to our lives. Ritual marks time, defines our movement from the ordinary to the sacred. It connects us to prior generations, links us to people across the world.

But it can divide too we were reminded.

So what are Jewish rituals that involve water?

Washing hands

Salt water at the Seder

The mikvah

Tashlich-casting our sins on the water at Rosh Hashanah

Tarhara-ritual washing of the dead

Alison led us in a discussion of Tashlich where we cast off the past and start anew at the Jewish New Year. The ritual involves tossing bread in the water to represent our sins. Ideally we go to a river with fish representing that we are caught in a net of divine judgment. Fish have eyes that are always open representing God's eyes always upon us. Sin, like the waters, will move on thus creating a separation, a rupture between past and future.

Alison shared a powerful poem by Peter Cole titled The Song of the Shattering Vessels that speaks to rupture, a theme throughout our discussion.

Building on that theme Rani shared a poem with us from the blog of Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi Blog. The poem titled Firmament/Tearing explores a medieval Midrash based on Genesis 1:6-7. While the passage in Genesis speaks of God dividing the water between sky and earth, the Midrash tells of all the waters ascending and refusing to descend. God extended his finger and tore the waters in half forcing half to descend. Two words come into play, Keri'a which means "tear" and Raki'a which means "expanse". Each is an anagram of the other. The Midrash says "God said, let there be an expanse (Raki'a)--do not read expanse, but "tear" (Keri'a)".

This passage presents an analogy between human birth and God's creation. Each involves a tear in the waters to allow space for independent life.

Keri'a is in fact a ritual associated with death. At one time a Jew in mourning would tear their clothing. Now we receive a krea ribbon which we tear. We enter life with a tear and similarly we leave it with a tear.

Rani referenced the Jewish folklore about how the baby in utero can see everything before and to come. A touch by an angel at birth causes the child to forget and creates that indentation above our lips. Thus something is given up for something that is coming.

As a group of artists we recognized the destructive part of the creative act. Disruption is part of the process of creation.

We turned our attention to Miriam's Well. Miriam is the only female figure in the Torah who is not known as someone's wife or mother. When the Israelites left Egypt, God created a well that traveled with them for 40 years. Water went out from the well to the twelve tribes. It was known as Miriam's well and dried up upon her death. At that point Moses struck the rock for water.

A new ritual has begun to develop at Passover around the idea of Miriam's Well. The Kos Miriam, cup of Miriam, is filled with water as a symbol of Miriam's Well. It represents spirituality, nurturing and healing. While not created as a feminist symbol, some have interpreted it to represent the many untold women of the Torah.

We talked of where in the Seder we thought this ritual belonged. Suggestions included using it to fill water glasses and keeping a little bit within it or alternatively having each person pour some water into it.

We then each experimented with creating on paper a Miriam's cup for use at the Seder.

Alison and Rani left us with the following question to contemplate:

What kind of freedom might you want to help bring to others and/or yourself in honor of Passover? What might you have to leave behind, give up, tear or break away from, in order to help create that freedom?