Camp Chabad sponsored a pop-up Jewish art gallery and discussion featuring the internationally known contemporary Jewish artist Yitzchok Moully at the Rhinegeist Brewery in Over-The-Rhine on Thursday, May 6. More than twenty-five guests explored art imbued with Jewish themes while enjoying an assortment of kosher cheese, fruit and kosher wine.
Moully, originally from Australia, spoke about his journey to connect art and Judaism — one that intersected with the father of Rabbi Menachem Majeski, director of Camp Chabad, who curated the program. The artist’s grandfather left Egypt after the Suez Canal crisis and moved to Australia, where his parents lived a counterculture lifestyle. At four years of age, his mother brought him to Crown Heights, where she was advised to remain for four years. During that time, Moully’s mother studied under Rabbi Majeski’s father, and Moully and his mother became deeply interested in Judaism.
Eventually Moully attended rabbinical school and became a rabbi for 10 years, but he always felt the drive to paint. He explained the internal conflict he felt: “Am I a rabbi or an artist?” When his mentor helped him to realize that rather than being a conflict, it was his mission in life to continue being a rabbi through art, he became a full-time artist.
“Judaism is so close to my heart and I travel around the world and show people art to encourage them to find their talent and how they can make an impact to change the world for the good,” Moully said.
Rabbi Majeski spoke about this idea that everything in the world can be used for positive or negative. This was illustrated with the story of an encounter between a young girl during the 1940s and a famous rabbi. When the child who asked the man, whom she knew only as “Mr.,” about her fears about atomic energy, he explained, “Just like in the kitchen, a butter knife can be used for good or the opposite of good, in the same way, atomic energy can be used in both ways.”
“The Camp Chabad pop-up art event was held shortly before Shavous, the holiday commemorating when G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people and the seven Noahide laws to the whole world,” Rabbi Majeski said. “This timing provided a special opportunity to highlight the purpose of the holiday to reveal the goodness in everything in the world and elevate the whole world.”
The Pop-Up Jewish Art Show was one of a series of Camp Chabad sponsored events in OTR. Rabbi Majeski said, “Camp Chabad is active in OTR and has been running activities there since the fall including sponsoring a menorah in Washington Park, a Purim event, and Second Sunday OTR events. Many of Camp Chabad’s former campers live in that area as well as the parents of future campers.”
Camp Chabad 2021 will be held from June 21-July 30 at Koenig Park in Reading, and campers can sign up by the week or for all six weeks. Boys and girls ages 5-13 will enjoy a full array of sports, art, music, challah baking, pottery. Tennis and basketball courts and playgrounds are all on-site as well as an air-conditioned indoor area.