Reeva Shaffer receiveS NARKISS award

Jewish Art Education honored Reeva Shaffer on May 4 with our first Narkiss Award for Jewish Art Education. Shaffer, an internationally recognized artist, was cited for her lifetime of contributions to Jewish art and Jewish art education. JAE President Myrna Teck gave Shaffer a papercut from Israeli artist Archie Granot that referred to the merits of Bezalel, who was chosen to design the Tabernacle while the Jews wandered in the desert.Narkiss-presentation

reeva-in-flowersThe award, which she received at a standing-room-only reception in her honor, is a testament to Judaism's foremost art historian, the late Prof. Bezalel Narkiss, z"l. At the event, JAE also introduced our Jewish Art in Jewish Classrooms project. After receiving the award, Shaffer presented a walk-through of her artwork, many of which are seen in synagogues around the nation.

Click here to see the program for the event. You can still be added to the online version of the program by clicking here

 About Reeva Shaffer

Reeva Shaffer has been involved in creating and educating for her entire professional life. For over 30 years, she has been working in the fields of calligraphy, graphic design and fabric art. Early in her career, she was a teacher of mathematics. In the 1980s, she collaborated with a weaver in designing a wedding canopy-and began her pursuit of fabric painting. Since her arrival in the Washington, DC area, she has built her business, REEVA's 'ritings with rainbow-tallitruach, into a nationally recognized source of Judaic artworks, including wedding canopies/chupot, Torah mantels, ark curtains/parochet, tallitot and wall hangings. Her work hangs in synagogues around the world and has been exhibited in galleries and museums and publications.

Of her work, she says, "My strength is my color sense. I try to imbue everything I create with a modern interpretation of the past... just pushing the envelope slightly. I could never express the wonder and fulfillment I feel knowing that the creations of my hands bring spiritual delight to others. A part of me remains in everything I design."Torah-covers

Reeva's connecting with Jewish Art Education began years before the launching of the organization, when she took a class with Myrna Teck on Jewish art. Her strong friendship with Myrna made her a natural candidate to become a member of the founding Board of Directors of JAE, where she served for five years. She remains a strong supporter of our work and aspires to return to our board when her busy life permits.

For her dedication to the creation of Jewish art and her commitment to the mission of expanding the understanding of the role of the visual arts in advancing Jewish civilization, JAE is honored to present the first Narkiss Award for Jewish Art Education to Reeva Shaffer.

 About Bezalel Narkiss

Bezalel Narkiss, after whom the JAE Achievement Award is named, was the leading historian of Jewish art in his time.  He was also an inspiration to the work of the Jewish Art Education Organization and mentor to the JAE founder, Myrna Teck, Ph.D.  Known to his friends as "Tzali," Narkiss was a professor of Art History at the Hebrew University, and Founder and first Director of its Center for Jewish Art.  He was visiting professor at a number of leading U.S. universities, visiting scholar at the National Gallery of Art, asNarkiss-Tzali-at-70 well as art editor of Masada Press and Encyclopedia Judaica and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Jewish Art from 1974-1986.

His primary area of expertise was in illuminated Medieval Latin and Hebrew manuscripts, including extensive work on the Golden Haggadah, the popular Sephardi manuscript produced in Spain in the 13th and 14th centuries. He was also one of the three original teachers in Hebrew University's Department of Art History.

Professor Narkiss considered the inauguration of the Index of Jewish Art as one of his greatest achievements and his legacy.  At his 80th birthday celebration in 2006, he told his friends, relatives, and colleagues that "I perceived the Index as the most important educational tool to help research and expand the knowledge of Jewish art to students, teachers, and even kindergarten children, who could learn by the sight of their eyes the spirit of Judaism." After his death in 2008, the Israeli Government funded the indexing project and it was renamed, "The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art."

It is especially fitting that JAE, which today embarks on its own project to inspire kindergarten and older students to "learn by the sight of their eyes the spirit of Judaism," should honor the memory of Bezalel Narkiss with its achievement award.