Jews all over the world pray in the direction of Jerusalem.
The idea of prayer is familiar to us all, however the deeper aspects remain to be explored.
Traditional Jewish prayer became formalized through the Men of the Great Assembly in the 2nd century CE after the destruction of the second Temple. However, more recent Hassidic masters such as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, suggested that other types of prayer (outside of the traditional 3 daily times resembling the Temple sacrifices) can be personal, creative and in any form that the individual wishes. The development of "lihitbodedut" had many hassidic followers finding peace and harmony through a therapeutic cry in the woods. Similarly, the earlier kabbalists, such as the Ari and Abraham Abulafia, used creative methods of connecting to Hashem, through chanting, mantras, visualisation and meditations on creative formulations of Hebrew lettering.
Throughout much of Jewish history, creativity has played an immense role in Jewish experience, especially during challenging times.
Masses of orchestral groups of musical Levites supported the sacred rituals of the Holy Temple.
Through Yetzira, our wish is to reinvigorate our collective Judaism with this sense of creativity and sacred expression.
Yetzira, working with the professional artist and filmmaker Elliott Leigh Tucker (aka ALEPH) are keen to embark upon a creative exploration of prayer.
We wish to bring prayer in people's lives in deeper and more holistic way. That prayer can be dynamic, creative, exciting and a majestic way of life. Constant prayer is a higher form of consciousness.
We will develop a series of workshops to discuss prayer, to debate our relationship with Hashem/Oneness/the Infinite Universe, to explore healing and to creatively express what prayer is.
What is the mission and purpose of this program?
The core purpose of this program is to develop and train our members and students in their chosen creative paths.
Anyone participating on the program will be given professional mentoring, use of equipment and studio time and will be guided to deliver artworks related to the program themes. This will all feed into the workshop delivery, as shared communal experiences.
Positive thinking, affirmations and meditation are very popular in schools of thought today, such as life coaching, and we wish to develop this further to help nurture people's daily experience of life and to build communal networks around creative expressive prayer.
We see communal creative prayer as having immense potential.
Firstly, not all people relate to traditional prayer - as some of the liturgy can seem rigid and dense to people.
We wish to create a forum where people can feel a freedom to creatively express their inner connection, in a safe and meaningful Jewish environment.
Secondly, intentional communities are growing in popularity today, where people come together to live and exist for a specific cause. Collective creative prayer can be an immense way of fermenting people together through a collective consciousness. Producing art and music will add to the feeling of a collective communal language. This will support our building of a community of artists and creatives in the Jerusalem area.
Lastly, the use of creative prayer in Jerusalem will be a great shining light to the wider Jewish community and we will have artworks, videos, recordings, photographs etc to share with new potential members and the wider public, to assist the growth of our organisation.
The program will be a series of creative workshops, around the theme of prayer, running in various locations in and around Nachlaot in Jerusalem.
The workshops will fuse creativity (art, video multimedia and music) with Torah learning and spiritual guidance.
The program will culminate in a public showcase event curated by the participants and other Yetzira members.
Workshops will run over a 3-4 month period, at least once a week for 3 months (or equivalent to designated hours per month)
Dedicated members and applied students will be given mentoring to support a specific project or artwork related to prayer and the building of Jerusalem and its people.
The initial phase will be pilot creative workshops to generate interest and to form committed groups.
Specialized workshops will be booked at different locations, working with professional artists. For example, the graffiti artist Solomon Souza Kohn (who recently painted mural art all around the Jerusalem shuk) will give an interactive graffiti session to a group of aspiring artists.
The program will also work with artist and media producer Elliott Leigh Tucker (aka ALEPH) to produce an array of exciting themed short movies, all shot around Jerusalem locations.
The movies will also work as music videos, showcasing the talent of local musicians with fresh visuals of the city and exciting performers and actors.
Participants will be trained in video production, music production and video editing by Elliott Leigh Tucker and Ben Bueno.
Rabbi Aaron Samole and other teachers will provide dynamic Torah stimulus material on prayer.
There will be the promotion, marketing and delivery of a participant curated showcase event.
Participants and Yetzira members will take a leadership role in curating their own event.
The event will be open to all and will display art and music from/to the local community.
Subsequent live art making and music busking jams will also be initiated in various areas around Jerusalem, including the shuk, Nachlaot and Jerusalem town centre/Ben Yehuda street.
Program beneficiaries will be a combination of local Jerusalemites who have connected with our organisation.
This is a diverse variety of artists, aspiring artists, social activists and spiritual minded people. The age range is typically early 20s to late 30s.
We are also planning to open up our programs to students from abroad too.
We are also nurturing active members who have offered voluntary support, to host sessions and to support the running of meetings.
Yetzira has been running programs for several months and has discussed demonstrated need in the previous section for their organisation.
Elliott Leigh Tucker has been facilitating workshops for nearly 20 years.
Recent workshops include work with the Ascent institute for Jewish mysticism in Tzfat. Workshops there involved participatory visualisation and free drawing around a spiritual based theme. These were very successful. People experienced a release of inner emotion. They felt more connected, present and elevated. People also continued to attend the program on future weekends after their positive experience. People were very keen to be more involved in similar future activities which ran - such as further art workshops, music jams and theatre productions.
Elliott also participated with the dream healer Mika Hadar, developing a program of facilitated dream dialogue (www.youtube.com/dreamdialog). The program produced videos and participants were very excited and willing to be part of the opportunity. Dream workshops continued in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and also in London. This program also evolved into further work with healing, visualisation & prayer. We saw that an added spiritual dimension with clients was something in demand, compared to life coaching which does not work in this realm. Religion often connotes a certain bias (through history and perceptions of religious conflict) but if it is seen through a spiritual consciousness - a dialogue through creative prayer that can give elevation to people's lives.
The work recently involved into group weekend sessions (eg. The Community of Opportunity weekend outside of London with 60 people and a spiritual shmitta weekend on a moshav near Beit Shemesh for over 40 people). Elliott is also currently piloting spiritual creativity art workshops with Jerusalem based social activist Sherny Isseroff after demand from similar events and music/art jams in Nachlaot.
Furthermore, session work with the Tel Aviv based healer Amanda Ronson and Jewish meditation work with Rabbi Eyal Karouchi in Tzfat has led to the setting up of "Vision Quest" - a portal for further meditation and visualisation workshops (www.visionquest.consulting). The growing list of interested clients seems to point to a new wave of Jewish spiritual experience.
This is a beginning program, so we will outline our extensive experience in these professional arts.
Elliott Leigh Tucker is an artist, filmmaker, actor and producer. He has made films for many UK museums, Jewish organisations and educational institutions as well as commercial productions and music videos.
He was a core member of the establishment of multiple community building entities in London, including Grassroots Jews and Moishe House London which reached out to 1000s of members. The projects were exciting, artistic and immersive for all involved and each continue running today.
Elliott also successfully ran the movie making workshop program at the London Film Museum for 5 years, reaching out to 1000s of students from all over the world via creativity and film making.
Elliott also developed multiple East London heritage video projects (one of the areas of key Jewish settlement from the late 1800s onwards) and recorded video interviews with ex East Enders such as Vidal Sassoon, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and the actor and theatre director Steven Berkoff.
Other projects also included participatory interfaith media projects with local Muslim communities.
Yetzira Creative Director, Ben Bueno, has accomplished many projects with Aish UK.
He was head of all the UK events, including logistical management, graphic design and incorporating social media.
He assisted in managing trips for 1000s of students, including a private cinema event in the Chief Rabbi's house and a Moroccan dinner themed event in the largest hotel in Europe for 500 people.
Ben has also been writing music for 20 years is a producer/songwriter/composer/engineer as well as an arranger, multi-instrumentalist & vocalist. Ben has been in several professional music bands, toured, recorded and had his music aired on top UK radio stations and worked with top music professionals in music production: Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones), Dave Eringa (Toploader/Idlewild/Manic Street Preachers), Tom Elmhirst (Bush/Adele), Matt Lawrence (Chief engineer, Metropolis studios Chiswick) (Elton John/Adele), Ben Thackeray, Chris Sheldon (Biffy Clyro/Foo Fighters/Garbage), John Smith (Blur), Mark Wallis (The Smiths, REM, U2).
How do you measure the success of your program?
The project will record interviews and evaluations with participants, both as video/audio recordings for a promo movie and as anecdotal evidence for project managers. This will include dialogue with staff, volunteers, members & participants.
Much of the process will be documented and can be used for analysis later on. There will also be interviews at showcase event and a scribble board at the showcase event garnering peoples thoughts and responses.
Furthermore, online social networking and Youtube views will provide responses and clicks seeing the quality and quantity of people's responses to the program.
There will be a Youtube channel for project media uploads online, which will be available around the world for perpetuity.
A promo documentary film, music recordings and photo montages will be developed on the project.
These tools will all be used to assess the success of the program. The idea is that the creative spiritual exploration of the program will generate a huge momentum to carry it forward into the future.