LASHON HARA: On the Consequences of Hate Speech

An exhibition by Robin Atlas at The Anne Frank Center USA.

Presented in conjunction with the Jewish Art Salon.

December 3-February 27, 2015. Tue-Sat 10-5.

Opening Reception Wednesday December 3, 6-8 pm.


Anne Frank Center USA, 44 Park Place, New York, NY 10007. Tel: 212-431-7993.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a series of workshops, discussions and artist lectures on relevant themes. Grow Your Own Poem takes place January 31 at the Anne Frank Center USA. Tu B’Shvat celebration February 1 at the Museum at Eldridge Street.

About the exhibit

Words have always been a catalyst for destruction, but today hate speech is increasingly prevalent – tearing apart the fabric of our communities in ever more violent and destructive ways.

Around the world, religious hostilities are at a six year high. While in America alone, the number of hate groups has increased by 56 percent since 2000.
Lashon hara, meaning “evil speech” in Hebrew, directly confronts this impulse to speak negatively of others, to destroy them with words. Intolerance, anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination are all products of this action – and for this reason lashon hara is considered a very grave sin in Jewish tradition.

Despite this, it is true that words have also always been a catalyst for salvation. Few people understand this better than Anne Frank, whose diary both illuminated the consequences of inciting hatred through speech and also exemplified the power of words to inspire hope.  “I can shake off everything as I write,” she said, “my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

In Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech, a collection of 20 mixed media works, textile artist Robin Atlas explores the concept of evil speech, its effect on both the physical universe and spiritual realm, and the need for people to atone for their own verbal violence.

“While this collection is steeped in Jewish teachings, it extolls a simple, universal concept: We should not speak ill of one another except to advance constructive purpose, and then only within the embrace of a compassionate humanity,” she explains. “It is intended to stimulate awareness of the impact of our words. It is my hope that from that, the factions become the whole and a common good evolves.”

Although the artist has used the vehicle of the Torah to convey her introspections, lashon hara is not confined to the Jewish community. There are examples of “evil speech” everywhere, in our personal and work lives, in the public sphere. In this respect, the show is both timely and timeless, resonating with everyone of every nation or culture, and age.

Inspired by an incident in her personal life the artist started to research the subject and it occurred to her that the underpinnings of hatred, intolerance, racism, anti-semitism and darkness stem from Lashon Hara (evil tongue). So simple. Our words. What we say to and about one another.

It was an imperative to have the discussion. As a result she created a small narrative of seven pieces, reflections of her own experience with Lashon Hara. In addition she engaged with the subject in a more universal or communal way, resulting in 13 more works.
The exhibit, which is sponsored by the Jewish Art Salon, will be accompanied by a series of workshops, discussions and artist lectures on relevant themes.

44 Park Place is near Church Street.
2/3 train to Park Place, A/C train to Chambers Street, E train to World Trade Center, N train to City Hall, 4/5 train to Fulton Street.
View map here.

Robin Atlas is a visual artist, print maker, fine arts consultant and curator, whose work has appeared throughout the United States.  She creates contemporary visual midrash – the artistic expression of sacred Jewish texts and Halachic laws — adding her own creative voice and vision to the ever evolving anthology of commentary.
Her Lashon Hara narrative features twenty individual deconstructed pieces of diverse elements coalesced on hand-dyed collaged fabric, using hand embroidery, free-hand machine stitching, printmaking and other creative techniques.
Robin works out of 49th Street Studios, a collective of five women artists in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, and is a member of the Jewish Art Salon, the American Guild of Judaic Artists,  and ORA Northwest.

The Anne Frank Center USA, a partner organization of the Anne Frank House, uses the diary and spirit of Anne Frank as unique tools to advance her legacy, to educate young people and communities in the U.S. and Canada about the dangers of intolerance, antisemitism, racism and discrimination, and to inspire the next generation to build a world based on equal rights and mutual respect.

The Jewish Art Salon is an innovative, international community of artists and art professionals. Since 2008 it has promoted contemporary art exploring Jewish themes and related to current issues. The salon provides important resources and programs; it organizes exhibits, art events, and (in the New York area) bi-monthly salon sessions with international artists and scholars, in order to create an appreciation for innovative Jewish art in the contemporary art world.

Measure for Measure, 2012

Mixed media on fabric, 7 ½” x 8 ½”

A basic tenet of Judaism: Those who speak evil about others are punished by midah k’neged midah or measure for measure. We reap measure for measure in the world to come.

Feather Pillow, 2012
Mixed media on fabric, 10” x 8”

Additional Programming


A horticultural/poetry workshop for families with artist Robin Atlas
Saturday January 31 from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Adults $8 and seniors/students $5.
$20 for a family ticket (consisting of 2 adults and 2 children, or 1 adult and 3 children).
Space limited. Reservations recommended.
Anne Frank Center USA
44 Park Place, New York, NY
212-431-7993 or email

As part of her exhibit, Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech, textile artist Robin Atlas will offer a horticultural poetry workshop for young people using text and collage techniques to decorate a plant pot. Participants will plant their own seedling, which they can then take home. All supplies will be provided. Plants and potting tools donated by FleursBELLA floral designers,

WinterGreen Festival at the Museum at Eldridge Street

Cut-up Poetry Workshop
12 Eldridge Street between Canal and Division
Sunday February 1 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
For more information visit
As part of her exhibit, Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech, textile artist Robin Atlas will offer a cut-up poetry workshop for young people at the Museum at Eldridge Street’s WinterGreen Tu B’Shvat* celebration.
Cut-up poems will be displayed on the Museum’s Tu B’Shvat tree. Poetry, paper and glue will be provided.
*Tu B’shvat, the Jewish New Year for trees, has in recent years become a Jewish Arbor Day.
Directions: Click here for map and detailed directions.

Trains: F to East Broadway – Exit at Rutgers Street. B or D to Grand Street.Buses: M15 to Grand and Allen Streets.  M15 Select to Hester and Allen Streets.


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