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TIOH Art Tour: Scholar and Students 

  • By Laurie Gross Schaefer 
  • USA, 1985 
  • Textile: Linen, hand-woven, hand-dyed tapestry 
  • Gift of Cantor Susan Fenvyes Adler & Susan Galambos Fenvyes and Margaret Galambos, in loving memory of Jeno Galambos 

In 1985, Laurie Gross Schaefer created this piece of floating fiber art with no horizon line in response to her inspiration of the leadership of Rabbi David Lieber, the President of the University of Judaism (UJ) and founding director of Camp Ramah in California.  That year, she attended UJ’s Rabbinical Ordination and noticed the colors of the graduates’ clothing. She created this piece to illustrate how a teacher imparts his wisdom of the texts to his students by weaving blue yarn through all the “students”, each represented here as a tallit.  She chose to weave 14 students, because the number 14 in Gematria is yud-daled, which spells the word yad (hand). Gross Schaefer was captivated by the notion that when we read Jewish texts, our hand becomes the vehicle to pass the learning on to the next generation. When interviewed, Gross Schaefer said this is not a feminist piece; rather, she said, “I am taking ownership of the tallit.  Don’t read a man in a prayer shawl, see a person in a prayer shawl. I’m trying to let people let go of specific genders.” 

Gross Schafer is a nationally known artist who uses fiber sculpture to depict spiritual and biblical themes. Her pieces are designed for synagogue environments and include ark doors and curtains, torah covers, eternal lights, windows, memorial walls, tapestries, and sculptures. Her work is exhibited in Jewish museums across the country including the Skirball Museum, Hebrew Union College, The National Museum of American Jewish History, as well as in many synagogues and private collections. 

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