Be still with yourself
until the object
of your attention
affirms your presence.
Minor White, photographer
BY LINDA BACHRACK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KRISTA HUSA
The kadosh panel represents spirituality through learning. Left: Dina Kawer is framed by her shalom
glass panel depicting water, fire and learning.
hen fine art photographer Dina Kawer was asked to
design a new chapel at Congregation Beth Ahm in
West Bloomfield, she locked herself up on a
Sunday afternoon in the old, dated space that was
to become her creation. "I sat on the bimah and waited to feel the
room's energy. I waited for the room to speak to me," she says.
Eventually, Kawer received her inspiration. The room called
for a calm, spiritual, elegant design. The focal point would be two
large glass panels, designed in memory of Kawer's mother, Esther.
The artist struggled for months to make the panels as meaningful
as possible. She based each design on the individual words,
shalom and kadosh, focusing on the meanings of the Hebrew let-
ters that form the words themselves.
The diamond-shaped design of the two words was taken from
a kabbalistic text. "For the word shalom, the letter mem means
water and is represented by the wave pattern at the bottom of the
panel. The letter shin, in this case, means fire and is depicted as
flames. The letter lamed means learning, often represented by the
Tree of Life. Its vines are depicted here. "The vines emanate
from the water (as does all life), and emerge above the flames,
which spark learning," explains Kawer.
For the kadosh panel, Kawer turned to abstract art, using leaf
shapes to represent spirituality through learning; rectangles as
gateways; and circles, "which are infinite and as imperfect as we
are," for the soul (shin). In other words, she says, the two words
complete the phrase kadosh shalom, or holy peace.