With the magnificent renovation of the Sue and Jerry Teller Student Lounge and Dining Room completed under the watchful guidance and design of HUC-JIR Board of Governors Patty Beck, the HUC-JIR/Cincinnati Dean's Office and Outreach Departments recognized the opportunity to enliven the walls with artwork and photography by HUC-JIR students and faculty.
The primary photographer's work displayed is the nationally recognized artist and Professor of Bible David Aaron. His photographic scenes of architectural Cincinnati are found in the "Bumming Room"--the newly restored overstuffed-leather living room used for generations by students and faculty of the Cincinnati campus. Included are photos of the historic Plum Street Temple, the Cincinnati Museum Center and Union Railroad station, as well as Cincinnati city scapes.
The second major collection is a suite of eight color photographs of the Aron HaKodesh-Torah Ark designed and created by 2010 Cincinnati ordinee Rabbi Jean Eglinton as her Ordination thesis/capstone project, inspired by the prayer "Yotzer Or," the morning creation prayer. Beginning with the first panel through the eighth, one can read the entire prayer found in images of light and dark, anguish and joy, religion and science. By using deep colors and unexpected materials, Rabbi Eglinton has paid tribute to her earlier career as a recognized book illustrator and artist.
The final grouping of photographs is the result of a competition for all Cincinnati students, staff and faculty. More than seventy photographs were submitted under the theme of "Books," "Israel," and "Places." A group of judges, including Dr. Aaron; Rabbi Eglinton; Rabbi Ken Kanter, Director of the Rabbinical School at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati; and second-year student and photographer Matthew Zerwekh; selected twelve works to be framed and displayed, with three to receive cash prizes. The first place prize went to third-year student Ari Lorge for his black and white photograph entitled "The Way In-Ornate Door in Jordan," with the second place prize gong to fifth-year student Josh Leighton for his color photo of the Oranienburger Synagogue in Berlin, and the third place prize going to Professor Nili Fox for her photograph "Tree of Life," depicting Tel Dan volunteers on a break.
The plan is to have annual contests on different photographic themes to make the Teller Lounge a central location for art, beauty, recognition, and appreciation.