Judaism Unbound Episode 108: The Jewish Studio Project - Adina Allen, Jeff Kasowitz


Dan and Lex are joined by Adina Allen and Jeff Kasowitz, founders of the Jewish Studio Project, which bills itself as "part urban art studio, part house of Jewish learning, part spiritual community," as part of our series exploring new experiments in spirituality and community building. Our conversation looks at how creative expression and Judaism can overlap in powerful ways and how the Jewish Studio Project, through its combination of Jewish learning and creative arts exploration, creates a context for folks to explore that overlap themselves.

 Image Credit: College of Reconstructing Judaism

Image Credit: College of Reconstructing Judaism

(0:01 - 17:25): To begin the episode, Allen and Kasowitz discuss what led them to start the Jewish Studio Project. [1] [2] They also examine the "baggage" that people have around both Judaism and art, and how they seek to move people beyond what holds them back from fully expressing themselves in either realm. Further, they talk about how the Jewish idea of "B'tzelem Elohim" -- every human being created in the image of God -- relates to their work, allowing every individual person to express themselves through the creative process.

(17:26 - 32:11): When many think of the creative process, they think of visual art. In addition, though, other forms of expression, like writing [3] or music, [4] can play a central role in individual and communal manifestations of creativity. Allen and Kasowitz outline some of the ways in which these other forms play a role in their work at The Jewish Studio Project. They also break down how, in particular, their model produces a context where connections can form between people rapidly, and which is comfortable for those who may be considered marginal in other Jewish spaces.

 Image Credit: Jewish Studio Project

Image Credit: Jewish Studio Project

(32:12 - 47:57): Allen and Kasowitz discuss how their work, perhaps counter-intuitively and perhaps not, can play a role in social justice work. Allen then provides a detailed walk-through of one of their recent experiences, to paint a detailed picture (pun intended!) of how exactly their programs manifest. To close, they invite listeners to apply for an immersive, "a deep-dive into Jewish inquiry and creative process across five days," the next of which will be taking place May 6-10 in Berkeley, CA. [5]

[1] Learn more about The Jewish Studio Project by visiting its website. You can find full bios of Adina Allen and Jeff Kasowitz by clicking here.

[2] Discover the work of Pat Allen by clicking here.

[3] Creative Commentary is a regular event hosted by The Jewish Studio Project inviting participants to express themselves via the written word. Learn more about it by clicking here

[4] Kasowitz discusses his album, entitled Arba'im Shanah (40 Years) in this section of the conversation. Listen to it for yourself here.

[5] Learn more about these immersives by watching the video to the right. Apply to one at this link.