Israeli American Council Launches Project “Words of Wisdom” | Shalom Austin

Israeli American Council Launches Project “Words of Wisdom”

Community News, The Jewish Outlook

Jun 22, 2021

Check out this brief video documenting the process and the artistic display: https://youtu.be/manW1enDIDg. Credit: YouTube screenshot.

By Devorah Avni Fuchs

During these uncertain times, while the U.S. are all following strict social distancing measures, can people still come together as a community and build new connections between Jewish generations in Austin? Is it possible to still foster meaningful joint collaborations without actually having people meet in-person?

These are some of the questions that were raised during the Israeli American Council Gvanim (Leadership Program) discussions earlier this year, as the team was planning the upcoming Purim activities for the local community. 

The team realized that especially in times like today, it is even of greater importance to strengthen these bonds within the community and continue to develop these connections for the future of the community. Nevertheless, it will require that all partners demonstrate even more creativity and flexible thinking in motivating people and setting a safe foundation for positive ties to be nurtured and showcased.

As the Hebrew month of Adar enters, people are asked to increase their happiness. People are told they must be happy – but that saying got the Gvanim team members thinking; how do people do that? What is the recipe to increasing happiness? Is there one?

With the help of local leaders in Austin’s Jewish community, the team approached the 60+ population and asked them for their personal insight based on their own life experience; what would be their best advice for the younger generation – How to live a happy life? Many different inspiring answers were collected, for example: “Do something today that you will be proud of tomorrow. There will be lots of tomorrows to enjoy the results,” said Lorenzo Sadun, age 60, as well as: “Perform a sincere act of kindness every day. Be fair with everyone. Follow the wisdom of your religion,” said Herschel Hochman, age 86. 

All recommendations were passed on to the IAC Eitanim youth group, an immersive, innovative, project-based learning experience for Middle & High School students, to be incorporated into a unique artistic display. As a homage to the advice passed on to them, the teens were each asked to choose one of these sayings and use it as a source of inspiration to create their pieces of art. To link these golden rules for a happy life to the upcoming Purim holiday, the canvas’ chosen for this project were large white Purim masks. The teens were then invited to paint the mask as they wish while including the advice they received. 

The older generation’s words of wisdom, together with the younger generation’s interpretation, came together to create a complete and mesmerizing work of art for the entire Jewish community in Austin to explore and enjoy.

The exhibition “Words of Wisdom” was open to the public attending the IAC Purim drive thru at the JCC and is on display at congregation Beth El.

This was a meaningful opportunity for all participants, who chose to contribute their time, knowledge, and talent to make this special exhibition a reality. Undoubtedly, all of the community, kids and kids at heart benefited from this special experience.  

Project organizers (IAC Gvanim members): Devorah Avni Fuchs, Daria Fainshtein, Ronny Shoval Blick

Participants: Ben Avni, Benjamin Zilber, Bertha Miller, Danielle Bar-Ner, Doris Hochman, Ella Meidan, Ellen Marcus, Hadar Vainbrand, Herschel Hochman, Javis Howeth, Joe Winer, Laraine Lasdon, Linda Kalter, Lorenzo Sadun, Mark Goldberg, Michal Blick, Michal Petrilin, Noya Vainbrand, Romi Avni, Sarah Koeller, Shay Lerner, Sigrid Levi-Baum. ■

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