Refuge: under Whose wings do you seek shelter?
Valley Beth Shalom, Encino
May, 2017 - July, 2017
Ruth Weisberg, Melinda Smith Altshulers, Dr. Lori Shocket
On the Holiday of Shavuot, the Jewish community reads the Book of Ruth which is about a woman who is a foreigner and comes to live with her mother-in-law, Naomi, after they are both widowed. Boaz, Naomi’s cousin, blesses Ruth for having the courage to travel to a new home and to care for her elderly mother-in-law. He says: "May the Lord reward your deeds, ... under Whose wings you have come to take shelter."
This exhibition is inspired by Boaz’s poetic phrase, and seeks to engage our VBS community in considering what it means to be a refugee, and ponder how to protect today’s refugees under the wings of our own community.
Sixty million people are currently refugees — Of those displaced and vulnerable wanderers, a shocking nearly 80% are women and children. As a community who believes that caring for the stranger is a core value, we are obligated to ask ourselves what we can do for these modern Ruths – the millions of mothers, sisters, and daughter, as well as men and boys who are forced to leave their homes because of war, famine, and environmental catastrophe, in search of a better life for themselves and their children.
The artists gathered in this exhibition remind us of those in our modern history who have sought shelter in times of crisis. Ruth Weisberg's beautifully rendered prints and drawings recall for us our own communal refugee crisis during and after the dark years of the Holocaust. Those painful memories make the duty to take action in today’s refugee crisis all the more personal.
Through a series of prints, Melinda Smith Altshuler's work explores the disappearing homestead that forced many into wandering in the United States and beyond. Her clouds remind us of the arduous journey of displaced persons and symbolically calls to mind the movement of individuals, scattered like clouds across our landscape. Dr. Lori Shocket’s art takes these stories into the present day, through her installation of a grid of stories and artworks create by over a hundred modern refugees from Syria and Guatemala.