One Nation and Tzedek Boxes at the Heller Museum

Thursday January 26th two exhibitions open at the Bernard Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College in New York City. Together they feature 30 JAS artists.

These two exhibitions are:

ONE NATION: Contemporary Artists Consider America’s Past, Present, And Future 

TZEDEK BOXES: Justice Shall You Pursue: Artists Imagine A New Jewish Ritual Object  

Opening Reception:

Thursday, January 26 at 4:30 – 6:30 pm; Program at 5:15 pm

Heller Museum, One West Fourth Street, New York City


The powerful new art exhibition, “ONE NATION,” presents a provocative view of America’s past, present, and future as interpreted by 45 contemporary artists who consider the state of our nation and hopes for a just future.

E pluribus unum, out of many, one – was the Founders’ vision for America: a nation forged from different ethnic cultures, national origins, religions, and economic classes – yet unified by a shared commitment to freedom, democracy, and guaranteed individual rights.  

The artists in this exhibition have investigated America’s ideals and aspirations as well as its challenges through works mirroring the diversity of American culture and experience. Their diverse identities provide multifaceted perspectives of who we are, and who we might become. 

From the Founding Fathers to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the welcoming Statue of Liberty to today’s immigration struggles, the joy of citizenship to the striving for the American dream, the many facets of our nation are powerfully depicted in multiple mediums, including paintings, woodcuts, photography, tapestry, collage, and textiles. 

Curator Phyllis Freedman explains, “One Nation expresses more than an ideal. It reflects an essential truth about  human society: we are stronger and more resilient together, embracing all of our differences, than we are apart.” 

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Heller Museum Director, adds, “This exhibition reminds us that we must take action against the systemic racism, attacks on human rights, and rising antisemitism that divide our nation, and ensure that our country endures as a guiding light of freedom and justice for all.”  


Participating JAS artists:

Ronit Levin Delgado, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Alan Falk, Debbie Teicholz Guedalia, Judith Joseph, Tobi Kahn, Michal Nachmany, Mark Podwal, Archie Rand, Joel Silverstein, Heather Stolz, Merle Temkin, Yona Verwer and Ruth Weissberg.

On View: January 26 – July 20, 2023 

The art exhibition “TZEDEK BOXES: Justice Shall You Pursue,” imagines a new Jewish ritual object for use in a new ritual.

The Tzedek Box, a container for gathering reflections about our efforts to improve the world, is the inspiration for 30 highly original works by contemporary artists on display.   

Tzedek means justice; and working toward justice is a response to Judaism’s call: “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20) 

Each work has a slot for inserting a written note on each effort made to help the world, whether through volunteering, philanthropy, advocacy, education, or other just acts.  

The Heller Museum’s call to imagine a Tzedek Box has produced ingenious versions from contemporary artists from across America and around the world. Objects range from clocks to globes, from a jar that produces sparks of light with each submission to an interactive scroll. One work is a sleek brass shaft that opens to form the scales of justice; another is a silk hanging with a background of the forest.

Each box opens so that notes can be retrieved one month after Passover on Yom HaTzedek, which is celebrated on Pesach Sheini, a Biblical holiday allowing for second chances. The goal on that day is to review the past year’s actions and dedicate oneself to do even more in the coming year. 

The idea of Yom HaTzedek and the Tzedek Box Project has been led by Dr. Andrew Mandel, a 5th-year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR. It has attracted a team of lay leaders, rabbis, and rabbinical and cantorial students to imagine how the holiday could be celebrated.  

Dr. Mandel notes, “The artists in this exhibition have demonstrated that Judaism provides a remarkable diversity of visual metaphors with which to elevate the ritual of the Tzedek Box. From the prophetic mighty stream to the Kabbalistic gathering sparks of light, from the camel, whose name means to do good in Hebrew, to Holocaust imagery that cries ‘never again,’ each piece represents a unique contribution to the age-old conversation about who we are, looking beyond ourselves, when we seek to do our part to repair the world.” 

Curator Nancy H. Mantell, Ph.D., adds, “We find it remarkable how visually powerful the work of righteousness becomes when it inspires an artist’s creative process.” 

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director of the Heller Museum, explains, “This exhibition exemplifies the Heller Museum’s mission to encourage the interpretation and renewal of Jewish values, tradition, and practice through the creativity of contemporary artists in works that will advance justice in our world.” 

Participating JAS artists:

Frann Addison, Ellen Alt, Marisa Baggett, Maxwell Bauman, Susan Dessel, Beth Haber, Suzanne Horwitz, Judith Joseph, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Tobi Kahn, Rachel Kanter, Cindy Lutz Kornet, Beth Krensky, Diana Kurz, Tina Marcus, Mär Martinez, Reva Solomon, Deborah Ugoretz, Yona Verwer and Jana Zimmer.

On View: January 26 – May 15, 2023 

Opening Reception: 
Thursday, January 26 at 4:30 – 6:30 pm; Program at 5:15 pm 



Admission: Free; Identification and proof of vaccination required
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