The Amen Institute is a space where artists and rabbis can share their interpretations of Torah texts and, together, facilitate new ways of exploring these passages for the broader Jewish community. We are focused on three core programs that synchronistically work in tandem with one another to attain this goal: The J.A.W. Breakers Artist Fellowship, the Oreach Rabbinic Fellowship and the Amen Institute’s Jewish Artist of the Week.
Our J.A.W. Breakers fellowships cohort is comprised of 23 established and 7 emerging artists who are Jewish. They are each paired up with a rabbi, with the intention of producing a thoughtful art piece that grapples with the contents of their 1-on-1 text study. A follow-up meeting has the artist continue the conversation by presenting their artwork to the rabbi. The rabbi culls together their reflections and crafts a sermon from both of these interactions. The artwork is then distributed to synagogues around North America to present in their weekly newsletters. At the end of the fellowship our artists present and auction off their art piece in a virtual art exhibition. We provide many other weekly, monthly and annual optional offerings to ensure that our J.A.W. Breaker fellows feel a sense of community, empowerment and exposure every step of the way.
Our Oreach fellowship brings together 10 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum. Over the course of the fellowship, each rabbi is paired up with 3 artists, and (as described above) undergoes a two-part collaborative textual unpacking process from the rabbinic and artistic perspectives. At the end of each 10 week cycle all of the rabbinic fellows meet online to share their experiences and get to know one another.
Finally, our Jewish Artist of the Week program is the channel that will make these study sessions more than just an incubator of spiritual and creative introspection. We are creating and continuing to create partnerships with synagogues across North America asking to spotlight our J.A.W. Breaker fellows in their weekly newsletters and linking to the sermon/art page on The Amen Institute’s web page.
With these three programs in mind, we have created multiple other avenues to serve our artists, rabbis and the wider Jewish community. From publications, artist retreats, art creation circles, art programs for synagogues, two-way compatibility with Sefaria, concerts and much more yet to be announced in the pipeline, we will continue to make The Amen Institute an international source for creativity and inspiration.