Or Hadash | עור חדש: Sacred Material Culture for a Jewish Future

Shoshana Gugenhiem Kedem

About Shoshana Gugenhiem Kedem

Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem is an interdisciplinary artist, Torah scribe, curator and chutzpanit. Shoshana’s work dismantles patriarchy in Jewish and other spaces, redistributes agency to the public domain and centers the female voice through the sacred and the mundane. Institutional critique and publicly generated solutions provide an avenue for the new imaginary in her socially engaged works. Shoshana was one of the first women in modern times to train and practice as a Torah scribe. Her scribal work inspired her international collaboration, Women of the Book, launched with the Jerusalem Biennale 2015 and acquired by the Yale University Arts Library Collection. Today her work as a scribe manifests through her ongoing project, Or Hadash | עור חדש, an art intervention into the parchment making industry aimed at returning sacred relationship to the practice of parchment making. Shoshana is the founding Artist and Co-Director of the Greensboro Contemporary Jewish Museum in Greensboro, NC and of The Gugenheim Portland situated in her family residence in their NE Portland, OR neighborhood. She recently co-founded and directs Art/Lab, a fellowship for contemporary Jewish artists in the Portland area that explores the intersections of contemporary art and shmita practices.

About Or Hadash | עור חדש: Sacred Material Culture for a Jewish Future

Or Hadash | עור חדש is a Jewish and contemporary art in(ter)vention into the normative practice of parchment making that redirects the supply chain away from the industrial animal agriculture complex and toward shepherds and farmers. The work disrupts the current model of parchment making for Hebrew scribes by incorporating concern for higher animal welfare, regenerative farming, and slow craft practices into the production of parchment and, by doing so, centering regeneration—for humans, animals, lands, and community. Or Hadash | עור חדש is an emergent strategy for re/thinking קדושה (sanctity) in this moment and into the future. The heart of this artwork emerges from eco-feminist theory, liberation theology, and the sacred Jewish principles of שמיטה (shmita) and צער בעלי חיים (compassionate treatment of animals). It takes shape through a unique collaboration between a shepherdess, a parchment maker, and myself, a סופרת (female Torah scribe). Or Hadash | עור חדש asks, “What makes an object sacred? What is kedusha?“ while uniting Jewish communities’ ethics and values with their practice of Jewish tradition. The artwork explores the ways in which ancient Jewish wisdom can inform how we interact with and build the world around us while balancing the sacredness of faith and tradition with the convenience of modern life.