A Jewish Exploration of Climate Change

The rabbi, the priest and the imam receive a message from God. He’s had enough of mankind’s sins, and intends to punish them with a flood, more lethal than Noah’s. The priest goes to his people, reports the message, and asks them to repent, confiding in Jesus for their admission to heaven. The imam goes to his people, reports the message and tells them to accept the will of Allah. The rabbi goes to his people and says, “Jews, we have a few days to learn how to live under water.”

This joke is about how Jews respond to crisis, adversities, even catastrophe: they become creative – and try to have a laugh on top of it. The Ghetto of Venice epitomizes this condition: forced to endure very harsh restrictions, Venetian Jews responded by forging a vibrant community out of many; nourishing a proud cultural life blending Jewish and Italian elements; becoming a focal point for Jewish communities in Europe and disseminating Jewish texts and ideas far and wide. In the new millennium, in a different world, the inspiration and legacy continue.

Beit Venezia has invited six international artists to Venice, a uniquely inspiring but also fragile city, to provide a Jewish creative response to the most severe challenge facing humankind today: climate change.

The residency is focused on production, experience, critical discourse, networking, and participation with the local community. Using contemporary essays by both biblical and environmental scholars, these artists will explore the role of climate change as it relates to Venice, to Jewish history and to the artist’s country of origin and country of residence.

Complementing the three weeks’ residency in Venice in October 2018, primarily centered in the Ghetto and in the Scuola Internazionale di Arte Grafica, is a commitment to the group of almost a year’s duration. There will be artistic interventions that will be passed from artist to artist as well as several other components that will eventually all be combined to create a vibrant, thought-provoking, visual, educational zine.  The zine will be four color, oversize and forty pages, designed by a professional graphic design studio and professionally printed. The final aim of the project is to raise awareness about climate change in Jewish communities and beyond.

Jewish art may help us to continue to live above water, after all.

We are pleased to announce the participating artists:

Andi Arnovitz (lead artist), Lynne Avadenka, Meydad Eliyahu, Ken Goldman, Tobia Rava, Leora Wise.

We are proud to announce the participation of the following scholars, activists and Rabbis:

Ruth Calderon, Andrea Most, Nigel Savage, Alon Tal, Max Singer.

The project, promoted by Beit Venezia, is made possible by the generous support of The Scuola Internazionale di Arte Grafica, Matthew Bronfman, Fran and Bobby Lent.