Renewing Shmita

Idelle Hammond-Sass

About Idelle Hammond-Sass

I have always been oriented to making art, and exploring my spirituality through my artwork. For over 40 years I have been making tangible objects and jewelry. My work is rooted in my foundational studies at the Philadelphia College of Art and Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, 1975), Oxbow School of Art and Penland School of Craft.My current studio practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan is an extension of my work in painting and sculpture. I make jewelry that explores asymmetrical balance, texture, architectural construction and the juxtaposition of gemstones; and ultimately how these forms can be worn on the body. The meditative aspect of metalsmithing offers her calm awareness. Judaica and ceremonial objects add additional meaning as the use of these objects brings them to life and to fulfilling their purpose. Early exposure and work in the jewelry industry led to design positions and showing my work in national jewelry, trade and retail craft shows, workshops, exhibits and commissions. I am represented in the book “Art Jewelry Today”, and earned an AGTA ‘Spectrum Award’ for colored gemstone jewelry and was selected for a juror’s choice award in the 2018 Charles-Lewton-Brain fold forming competition for the eternal light (Nir Tamid) “Forest Dawn”. Idelle is also a trained facilitator of the Open Studio Process (OSP), an immersive experience in artmaking and writing that offers people a direct way of knowing their inherent creativity. Tapping that energy has invigorated her teaching adult classes in metalsmithing and enameling, volunteering with art classes for the homeless and facilitating OSP for Narrative Dimensions “Living Well with Illness” workshops.

About Renewing Shmita

This ritual object was conceived as an object to explore the creation of a personal Shmita ritual. In its current iteration as a prototype, it has evolved to include seven peices, two of which are devoted to light/or/fire. It may be used for Shabbat Candle lighting. Below the candles is a brass collar which is etched with the word Shmita in English and Hebrew. The cup is filled with water/Mayim. I have shown the other four dishes with soil and seeds- Adamah/earth, leaves and dried fruit, and one without anything to represent both air and rest-Neshama/Breath of Life. The four elements, water, fire, earth and air are the foundation of this object and the basis for a ritual that honors the planet and the earth, and our relationship to it. Instead of seeing the dishes as empty, they might contain air, or spirit, rest, or Neshama, the Breath of Life. Choosing what to cultivate, what to leave fallow and what to release in our lives, both personal and communal are the elements that can bring Shmita into observance into the future.Seven years ago, while offering several programs on Shmita with our congregation, several of us co-wrote a Blessing forShmita. I am including it here, so it might be used with this object or in your home :