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May 01, 2014 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-01

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arts & entertainment

Expressive Spirituality

A new exhibit at the Janice Charach Gallery, focusing on
mysticism and meditation, features works by a Detroit native.

I

Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News

W

hen Avraham Loewenthal was
a student at the University of
Michigan, a rabbi suggested
he read Jewish Meditation.
It's a quiet enough title, but the book
was about to fill Loewenthal's life with a
kind of brightness and spirituality and
adventure and faith and a world of possi-
bilities he never had even imagined.
Jewish Meditation, which teaches read-
ers how to use meditative techniques to
enhance prayer, was written by Rabbi
Aryeh Kaplan (1934-1983), a man who
saw beauty in both the spiritual and
physical worlds. An Orthodox rabbi, he
also held a master's degree in physics
from the University of Maryland.
Initially interested in yoga and Eastern
meditation, Loewenthal found Jewish
Meditation to be "life-changing:' he said.
"It opened me toward realizing that the
spiritual practice I was looking for was to
be found within Judaism itself"
While studying at U-M and later in
Chicago, Loewenthal "continued to read
Kabbalah books by Aryeh Kaplan:' he
said. "These inner spiritual teachings
inspired me to come to Israel on a spiri-
tual journey that is still continuing these
20 years later."
Now Loewenthal's art is coming to
Michigan in a new exhibit and sale,
"Expressive Spirituality," running May
15-June 26 at the Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit's Janice
Charach Gallery.

"As we approach the date of the open-
ing of our new exhibit, I am excited
and proud to present to our community
artworks depicting a theme that we can
all relate to: spirituality," said Gallery
Director Nechama Lurie.
"This exhibit will physically capture the
lofty ideas of Kabbalah and spirituality.
The most beautiful aspect, in my opinion,
is that while the artist created the art-
work, the viewer completes the artwork
through rendering his own interpreta-
tions, feelings and taking them to heart!"
Loewenthal — who attended Akiva
Hebrew Day School, Hillel Day School
and Southfield Lathrup High School —
is owner of the Gallery of Mystical Art
located in Tzfat, an Israeli city renowned
for its creativity and spiritual history.
Today filled with galleries and stone
houses covered with vines that weave,
maze-like, along every crevice, Tzfat in

Sneak Peek

A sneak peek of "Expressive
Spirituality," along with a lecture
by Dr. Jeffrey (Yossi) Chajes of the
University of Haifa, will be held at 7
p.m. Monday, May 12, at the Janice
Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield.
Chajes, whose lecture is sponsored
by the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic
Studies at Wayne State University
and co-sponsored by the JCC's
SAJE (Seminars for Adult Jewish
Enrichment), will speak on "It's Good
To See the King: Visual Kabbalah and
the Diagramming of the Divine."

the 1600s became the center of Kabbalah.
Loewenthal's pieces often combine the
mystical aspects, traditions and symbols
of Judaism with, interestingly enough,
contemporary techniques.
"Many years ago, I became fascinated
with learning about how the ancient pat-
tern of the 100 sounds of the shofar that
are blown on Rosh Hashanah are a deep
spiritual mapping of our inner spiritual
states of consciousness!' he said.
Initially, he painted on wood. Then he
began "to work with the shofar sounds in
a new way that is very exciting!' he said.
"I have begun to run the actual sounds
of the shofar through computer software
used in sound analysis that maps out the
sound waves!" He uses these to create
bright and colorful pieces filled with lines
and arrows and rectangles.
"I am being continually drawn to create
new works inspired by the sounds of the

Below: Avraham Loewenthal: 100 Sounds.

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Chajes is associate professor in the
department of Jewish history and
director of the Center for the Study
of Jewish Culture at the University of
Haifa. The author of Between Worlds:

Dybbuks, Exorcists and Early Modern
Judaism, he serves as director of the

Ilanot Project, a catalog of kabbalistic
diagrams in manuscripts and books
from the Middle Ages to today.
In his presentation, he will discuss
and show examples of the many
diverse kabbalistic designs from
throughout history.
There is no charge.

Spirituality on page 50

Connecting People To Art

Janice Charach Gallery welcomes new director.

I

Suzanne Chessler
Contributing Writer

N

echama Lurie feels very much at
home taking on responsibilities
as the new director of the Janice
Charach Gallery, located in the Jewish
Community Center in West Bloomfield.
Lurie's last position was manager
of the Blue and White Art Gallery in
Jerusalem, where she oversaw operations
of a family business passed along to dif-

ferent generations.
"I'm regularly in touch with Natalie
and Manny Charach," explains Lurie
about the parents who endowed the gal-
lery in honor of their late daughter, an
artist based essentially in oils and water-
colors with a degree from the College for
Creative Studies.
"I think it's very important that the
gallery reflect what they want because
this is their heart and soul. I want to be
a vessel for them similar to the role I had

at the gallery in Israel, where I kept up
the policies and messages that the family
wanted.
"Working in any gallery is a wonderful
opportunity to help people exprzzzess
their dreams and bring them to reality"
Lurie, 29, started at the gallery on
March 10 after going through a final
interview with Shari Lebo, former JCC
arts, culture and education director. She
found that programs had been booked for
about a year in advance and finances are

Nechama Lurie

Connecting on page 50

May 1 • 2014

45

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