That’s good news, but it’s not enough. All of these talented artists are producing art as individuals. However, religious resistance to the arts can only be dismantled by arts education. Without teaching the arts to children and teenagers, this small group of artists and musicians faces little hope of moving to the cultural mainstream of the religious community.
We need students and educators alike to realize that art is not the enemy of religion. Success will arrive when the next generation of Jewish artists is no longer viewed as a group of countercultural renegades but are included as authentic conveyors and participants of the hallowed religious traditions.
Jeremy Seth Davis is founder of Jewish Writers Alliance, an organization devoted to sparking creativity and literary achievement in middle school and high school-aged Jewish writers. His writing has been published in The Financial Times’s Mergermarket.com, The New York Daily News, FT.com, and Investment Dealers’ Digest.
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When I entered college, many of my classmates viewed me as an anomaly. I was a (mostly) observant Jew, and I was firmly entrenched in the school’s creative arts community. As my religious friends prepared for careers in law or accounting, they were continuously astonished by my immersion in English literature – a course of study they considered a thoroughly impractical and esoteric subject.