Repairing the World: Contemporary Ritual Art

November 4, 2007 - March 16, 2008

This exhibition highlights a group of contemporary ceremonial artworks from the Jewish Museum’s collection. These works, innovative in design and message, explore a wide range of contemporary issues facing both modern Jewish life and broader society.

For centuries, artists have created beautiful and functional works of ceremonial art designed for use on specific holidays or rituals. Contemporary artists have used these traditional forms as starting points, while creating fresh and innovative designs that reflect the world in which they are working. Some of the most exciting and inventive of these artworks not only use new materials and creative design, but also serve as a canvas for exploring contemporary social and political issues.

The thirteen artists showcased in this exhibition have created ceremonial pieces that investigate a wide range of issues and challenges facing modern Jewish life as well as broader society. Many of the artists have explored feminist themes, creating objects that celebrate women’s oft-neglected roles in Jewish history and in general society. Other artists explore issues of violence and political conflict. By exploring these issues through the vessel of traditional forms, these artists bring fresh relevance to the themes of the stories and holidays that inspire these objects. The wide variety of issues explored in these works speaks to the breadth of connections these artists have been able to find between Jewish ritual and contemporary challenges. By putting modern issues and ancient traditions in dialogue with each other, each takes on deeper meaning and universal resonance.


  • Heléne Aylon
  • Harriete Estel Berman
  • Zoya Cherkassky
  • Janet Dash
  • Lillian Elliott
  • Neil Goldberg
  • Phyllis Handler
  • Cary Leibowitz
  • Richard Meier
  • Gilda Pervin
  • Lucy Puls
  • Laurel J. Robinson
  • Melissa Shiff