Judith Margolis: Countdown to Perfection-Meditations on the Sefirot at HUC-JIR/NY Museum

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum

One West 4th Street, New York, NY

On View: March 25 – July 10, 2009 

Artist’s Reception: Wednesday, March 25, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

From the second day of Passover until the harvest festival of Shavuot there are seven weeks, each of seven days. Jews commemorate these forty-nine days marking the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Sinai. These forty-nine days counted the spiritual ripening of the Jewish people as they themselves matured to receive the Five Books of Moses, the source of all knowledge, the word of God. Psalm 67, which has seven seven-word phrases, is traditionally recited when the Omer is counted each day. This seven-week period is known as the Sefirah, the counting.

Countdown to Perfection-Meditations on the Sefirot is a limited edition fine art unbound book contained in an individual, linen clad, oyster box.  Each of the 49 pages measures 16” x 10”, including the 5” x 8” image, plus the text and can be accessed as an individual piece. Judith Margolis states, “The works are done with the understanding that each soul will respond to the colors, shapes and universal iconic forms (a stone wall, a human hand, a staircase, tree roots, chaotic or calm colors) in a unique way. The images become both a focus of attention and a mirror for the viewer to learn from his or her own associations and thoughts, emotions and senses, what the day offers and requires.” Drawing from many aspects of Jewish religious tradition, kabalistic mysteries and basic principles of faith and practice, the accompanying texts offer a path of spiritual transformation.

Margolis has been inspired by the meditation texts written by Sarah Yehudit (Susan) Schneider, the founding director of a correspondence school called “A Still Small Voice.”  Since 1991, Jerusalem-based Schneider provides weekly teachings in classic Jewish wisdom to worldwide subscribers. Schneider, a student of the noted Orthodox Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, is the author of “Kabalistic Writings on the Nature of Masculine and Feminine.”

In the medieval, mystical understanding of theology known as Kabbalah, the Hebrew word Sephirot (“enumerations”) symbolizes the attributes or emanations of God into the physical and metaphysical universe. At a fundamental level, the ten Sefirot (ten being the number of divine perfection) represent the modes of connection with God that human beings may access through spiritual practice, religious experience, and text study of specific works that unlock divine secrets.

Judith Margolis, an Israel-based American artist, makes one-of-a-kind and limited edition artist’s books. This exceptional Omer Counter identifies forty-nine personality traits that, taken together, map a mystical journey of change. An examination of Kabbalistic insights and meditations offers personal inspiration and spiritual discipline. Since 1996, Margolis has been the Art Editor of Nashim: The Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues, published by the University of Indiana Press. Born in New York City, she is the Creative Director of Bright Idea Books, which produces limited edition and unique artist books. Judith Margolis has had numerous one person exhibitions, has been included in outstanding museum exhibitions, and is in leading fine art book collections. She has been a faculty member of colleges and universities in the U.S., Moscow, and Israel.

Museum Hours: Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Selected Sundays (March 29 and April 26), 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.  

Admission: Free. Photo ID Required.

Tours/Information: Katie Moscowitz, 212.824.2293; kmoscowitz@huc.edu; www.huc.edu/museum/ny


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu