Those of us observing the ritual of Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of days and weeks leading up to the holiday of Shavuot, are finishing the third week, which is associated with tiferet—beauty, balance, and harmony. According to Rabbi Min Kantrowitz, “tiferet is like a lens that magnifies the beauty in all things…the week of tiferet reminds us to walk a balanced path.”
While finding balance and harmony amidst chaos often presents a challenge, appreciating the beauty in all things can help us feel grounded as we walk through the path of our daily existence. In my classroom, I’ve been leaning into the practice of noticing beauty and expressing gratitude to God, Creator of All. I’ve also been meeting my students of the Tefillah and Comparative Prayer class in the Art Room, encouraging them to express what they’ve learned this semester in message-driven art.
I’m amazed at how each has chosen a different medium for the final project and all have chosen the topic of blessings over beauty in nature. I believe their inspiration came from the assignment they completed during spring break: Color two pages of Color the Omer, by Shari Berkowitz and Steve Silbert, and present your work when we return to school. They also had the option of creating their own Visual Torah, in case they preferred sketching to coloring in the lines.
Last week, I recorded them as they described their artistic choices. I also recorded myself sharing my process with them. [Full disclosure: I am an adult who doesn’t find coloring books relaxing.]
I invite you to view the students’ work, to listen to their artist statements, to read my Artist Statement, and to lean in with us as we magnify the beauty in all things through the lens of tiferet.
Rabbi Pamela Jay Gottfried
Author, artist, and teacher Rabbi Pamela Jay Gottfried is a member of the Bayit board.