Jacob’s Gift


The Jewish Eye 5778/2018 Calendar of Art

Jacob's Gift© Durga Yael Bernhard

TJE 5778 coverMy new calendar just went to press!  THE JEWISH EYE 5778/2018 Calendar of Art will be available by mid-July.  Featured this week is the cover image, Jacob’s Gift.  Many of you will know what this is without any caption: it is the story of Joseph’s coat of many colors.

In B’reishit, the book of Genesis, Jacob’s favorite among twelve sons and a daughter is the firstborn of his beloved Rachel.  Jacob adores Joseph, and gives him a coat of many colors.  Colored dye was rare in ancient times, and Joseph’s special garment really stood out.  This invokes the jealousy and wrath of his brothers, who throw Joseph into a pit and then sell him to slave traders bound for Egypt.  But Joseph’s endowment of fatherly love goes with him and sustains him through the darkest times.  He seems magically blessed by God’s favor, and patiently waits for his fortunes to turn.  Never losing faith, Joseph rises from an imprisoned slave in a dungeon to a high position in Pharoah’s court.  Joseph becomes a leader, and years later, saves his own brothers from the famine that drives them to Egypt in search of food.  Joseph’s life is a tale of extraordinary faith and remarkable turns of events.

I painted this image on a piece of handmade watercolor paper that I found at my local art supply store.  The paper’s surface reminds me of white Jerusalem stone, and appealed to me so much that I left some of it showing.  It is one of several images that I hope will become part of a much larger series: illustrations of the whole book of Genesis.

I taught Judaic studies to children for three years at two different synagogues, and often used a nickname for Genesis: The Book of Siblings.  Sibling rivalry abounds in the family relations of our ancestors, just as it does today.  The Torah gives us stories of how to be, and how not to be.  More about sibling relationships in future posts.

Happy Summer and a good week to all!

D. Yael


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