VIDEO: Tzedek Boxes

The Tzedek Box, a new ritual object for gathering reflections about our efforts to improve the world, is the inspiration for 29 highly original works by contemporary artists on display at the Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at HUC-JIR/New York. This exhibition is on view through May 15, 2023.

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 reflection on each effort made to help the world, whether through volunteering, philanthropy, advocacy, education, or other just acts. 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 Heller Museum’s call to imagine a Tzedek Box has produced ingenious versions from contemporary artists from across America and around the world. Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director of the Heller Museum, takes us through the works in the exhibit. Our program includes Dr. Andrew Mandel, a 5th year rabbinical student at HUC-JIR, who came up with the idea of Yom Hatzedek and the Tzedek Box Project. 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… 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.”

In addition to our featured speakers, several JAS artists speak about their work: Tobi Kahn, Yona Verwer, Dorit Jordan Dotan, Judith Joseph, Marisa Baggett, Suzanne Horwitz and Tina Marcus.

The series is curated by Judith Joseph and Dorit Jordan Dotan. In addition , this program is produced with the support of Jewish Art Salon’s Program Advisor Yona Verwer, team members Cheselyn Amato and Chana Wiesenthal Elias and with the ongoing support of CANVAS.

Graphic by Dorit Jordan Dotan. Art by Judith Joseph and Dorit Jordan Dotan.