TzedakahHarriete Estel Berman (American, b. 1952)
San Mateo, California, United States, 1999
- Pre-printed steel and aluminum rivets
- Each: 3 11/16 x 6 7/16 x 1/2 in. (9.4 x 16.4 x 1.3 cm)
- The Jewish Museum, New York
- Purchase: Dr. Joel and Phyllis Gitlin Judaica Acquisitions Fund, 2001-8a-yy
Not on view
Jewish people are encouraged to help less fortunate individuals year-round but especially at the time of the High Holidays. Harriete Estel Berman takes a unique artistic approach to the idea of the tzedakah box, a container in which to collect alms. Berman fashioned 50 envelopes from metal boxes, including several blue-and-white boxes that had been used to collect money for the Jewish National Fund. Her piece suggests the most common form of charity today--a check in an envelope--while recalling the deep Jewish tradition of giving. It is also a reminder of the many worthy individuals and causes still in need of assistance.
Discuss with students:
- Describe Harriete Estel Berman's work titled Tzedakah. What do the envelopes remind you of? What do you think they are made of? How did Berman decorate the recycled tins to create her envelopes? Why do you think she included so many envelopes?
- How has the artist organized the envelopes? What is the effect of arranging them in rows?
- Imagine that each envelope is meant for a different charity or cause. Where would you put your money? Why?
- What other forms of tzedakah are there besides giving money?