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Jewish Roots:
Growing Community through Art

Alliance Creativity Kit
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Rhode Island is a very small New England state about the geographic size of Israel. While there are members of the Jewish community living throughout it, there is only one community center which is located in Providence. The goal is to enhance Jewish life and connection for all, by creating conditions by which all members of Rhode Island’s Jewish community may connect with one another and with Jewish life more deeply

Nancy and Mark moved to Rhode Island in the Fall of 2019. Having met with folks at the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island prior to the move, they were aware of Nancy's interest is facilitating art experiences locally. Lisa Maybruch, Manager of Adult Programs, reached out to Nancy to discuss the possibility of contracting with her to design a project similar to that which she'd just completed at Temple Sinai Atlanta.

Lisa and Nancy established plan by which Nancy would travel to different parts of Rhode Island to facilitate art making gatherings where participants would make gems for a tree shaped mosaic that would ultimately hang in the lobby of the Alliance building. Along with the other multiple responsibilities in her job, Lisa secured funds through grants for what would be known as the "Jewish Roots" project.

And then came COVID. No one knew just what that meant, but people were becoming increasingly limited in their capacity to meet with others outside of their home. Workplaces, including the Alliance, had employees work from home. The Dwares JCC building shut its doors to the community. No one knew for how long.

A pile of gems for the Alliance tree.

The team developed "Creativity Kits" that included instructions and templates for making gems for the tree and other art activities & treats. Folks who signed up had a kit sent to them complete with a return envelope.

As time went on, gem templates were also made available for download online.

Children were invited to participate, offering educators a fun activity for their students.

Lisa then collected the hundreds of pieces of mini-art and is responsible for securing most of them to glass.

Aaron Gittin, a former Alliance employee who now works as full time as a woodworker, was contracted to prepare the wood base using the tree pattern Nancy created in her studio.

Mark cut and prepared leaf shaped glass.

Eventually Lisa and Nancy were able to position the gems onto the three pieced base and, in late December of 2021, the completed tree was installed in its intended home.

We look forward to the day when the building's doors are again wide open and the public can freely gather in and enjoy this wonderful community space.

May it be soon!

Nancy Katz mosaic tree installed in the lobby of the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island building.
Gems and leaves adhered to the wooden tree base.
branch close up of the mosaic Nancy Katz
Nancy Katz in front of the tree pattern she designed in her Pawtucket studio.

Adam Greenman, the Alliance's President & CEO, believed that Jewish Roots could serve as a vehicle to engage community members during this strangely odd time. Nancy, Lisa, and other staff members met virtually and came up with a plan.