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The Jewish Artists Initiative (JAI) is an artist-run organization committed to fostering visual art by Jewish artists and promoting dialogue about Jewish identity and related issues among members of the arts community.

Mission and History

JAI was originally conceived by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles in partnership with the University of Southern California Casden Institute and the USC Roski School of Art and Design. We are now under the fiscal sponsorship of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.

JAI Executive Committee: Melinda Smith Altshuler, Bill Aron, Georgia Freedman-Harvey, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Anne Hromadka, Avi Roth, Debra Sokolow and Ruth Weisberg, Chair

Artists – you're welcome to apply for JAI membership. Please follow the instructions in our Selection Criteria for New Members, thank you.

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The exhibition Table of Contents / Table of Contacts is being presented as part of the 2019 Jerusalem Biennale (October-November 2019) and assembled by the JAI - Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California, a group whose members are working in diverse media such as the visual arts, performance, film, theater, and research based mainly in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Through a five channel video installation, representing multiple generations of Jewish experiences and points of view, twenty seven artists and art professionals contemplate about their childhood memories, art and activism, Jewish heritage and the evolving connection to Israel, while sharing personal stories about how their lives, identities, and social awareness impact their current art practices. 

Video 1 - JAI Artists Introducing Themselves and Their Practice
Video 2 - American Jews and Israel
Video 3 - Can Jewish Artists Create Social Change?
Video 4 - What is Jewish in Your Art Practice?
Video 5 - Current Conflicts


Curator: Sagi Refael

Videography: Brinna Sales, Gal Zohar

Participating Artists: Yossi Alpert-Apodaca, Melinda Smith Altshuler, Shula Singer Arbel, Bill Aron, Pat Berger, Sandy Bleifer, Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik, Rhea Carmi, Stacie Chaiken, Will Deutsch, Susan Gesundheit, Barry Gordon, Roger Gordon, Bonita Helmer, Gilah Yelin Hirsch, Anne Hromadka Greenwald, Marisa Mandler, Aline Mare, Randi Matushevitz, Sarah Pavsner Mael, Avi Roth, Marleene Rubenstein, Doni Silver Simons, Ruth Weisberg, Cathy Weiss, Jana Zimmer, Marlene Zimmerman.

JAI Artists Introducing Themselves and Their Practice

American Jews and Israel

Can Jewish Artists Create Social Change?

What is Jewish in Your Art Practice?


Current Conflicts

The Mosaic Magazine article, There’s Plenty of Significant Contemporary Jewish Art Hiding in Plain Sight that we have linked to HERE is exceptional and a “must read”.  Its artist/author Richard McBee has written the most cogent analysis of both those who would apologize for, or diminish the role of Jewish Art, and those of us who in contrast, value highly the role that Jewish cultural and intellectual sources play in shaping our present day Jewish creativity.


I find this article courageous as it takes on an institution as established as the Jewish Museum in New York. In contrast to the Jewish Museum’s fear of being “too Jewish”, the article posits a vibrant movement of contemporary Jewish artists which is “hiding in plain sight”. I agree with this analysis whole heartedly and feel we should be very proud that the JAI is cited as an important part of this resurgence of art that reflects on Jewish identity and expression. I greatly admire this profound and passionate article for its principled stand and its eloquent articulation of our values. Thank you, Richard McBee. 

I hope you are all making use of these early Summer days to develop your own thoughts and artwork. In other words, I hope you are deeply engaged in your own work or presenting the work of others, so that Jewish culture will encompass and reflect our deepest convictions and beliefs without apology.

We are very busy planning our Fall exhibition at USC Hillel which will be part of our participation in the Jerusalem Biennale 2019. Our very gifted and committed curator Sagi Rafael is in the final stages of shaping both our Jerusalem and Los Angeles-based participation in the Biennale. I promise many more details in our Summer Newsletter.

Meanwhile, a very happy belated change of seasons,


Dear Ruth,

See below the article by Edmon Rodman about the JAI exhibit at PUP.
It's the third article... CLICK HERE or the image below.

Georgia Freedman-Harvey


An Exhibition of Artworks by the Jewish Artists Initiative

The Pico Union Project
1153 Valencia Street, Los Angeles, CA  90015


The Jewish Artists Initiative was invited to exhibit at the the Pico Union Project as part of the launch their exhibition program. The exhibition is dedicated to Pico Union’s Jewish principle to love your neighbor as yourself. JAI members share their interpretation of what defines a neighborhood, a neighbor or a sense of community through their artwork.


Shula Singer Arbel  •  Bill Aron  •  Lorraine Bubar  •  Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik  •  Rhea Carmi  •  Stacie Chaiken  •  Pam Farkas  •  Lorin Fife  •  Susan Gesundheit  •  Barry Gordon  •  Lucie Hinden  •  Gilah Yelin Hirsch  •  Rachelle Mark  •  Randi Matuschevitz  •  Sarah Pavsner Mael  •  Marleene Rubenstein  •  Ruth Weisberg  •  Jana Zimmer


Artist Ruth Weisberg explores the influences that have affected both her art and life.

Enjoy the Podcast - CLICK HERE

Ruth Weisberg, artist, Professor of Fine Arts and former Dean at the USC Roski School, is currently the Director of the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities and the founder and President of the Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California. She received the Printmaker Emeritus Award from the Southern Graphic Council International in 2015 and the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 50th Anniversary Cultural Achievement Award in 2011.

The Conney Conference on Jewish Arts was co-sponsored by the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities and the University of Wisconsin's Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies – held during the 4th week of March on the campus of USC. JAI Members played a major role in its success as 12 Artist or Curatorial members participated in or gave presentations.

Participating JAI members included: Bill Aron, Stacie Chaiken, Josh Feldman, Gilah Yelin Hirsch,
Andrea Hodos, Anne Hromadka, Rachel Kupferman, Sagi Refael, Lidia Shaddow,
Doni Silver Simons, Hillel Smith, Ruth Weisberg, Jana Zimmer