The aleph-bet, a mystical journey that even adults will love

November 9, 2022

What’s Happening

Presentation: Tuesday, November 29, 12 pm, online

Workshop: Monday, December 12, 12 pm, Sandler Family Campus

Art on view through December: Leon Family Gallery

Part bedtime story, part poem, and filled with highly evocative illustrations, Malkah’s Notebook: A Journey into the Mystical Aleph-Bet, is a love letter to the Hebrew alphabet. Written by Mira Z. Amiras and illustrated by Josh Baum, an Israeli artist and sofer (Hebrew for scribe), the book is divided into four parts, with four distinct styles of illustrations. Amiras takes readers through the kabbalistic journey of young Malkah, whose father is trying to teach her to read Torah. As with many young students, the more she learns, the more questions she asks until her learning path takes her through Jewish mystical texts, far-off places, archaeological digs, ancient gods, and ultimately into the nature of existence itself.

By offering a variety of opportunities centered on this profound and beautifully illustrated book, art lovers and Jewish scholars alike will find a way to connect with the story in Tidewater.

Forty of the books’ illustrations are on display in the Leon Family Gallery at the Simon Family JCC through December. Take a walk through the gallery to view the art ahead of the online event, when Mira Z. Amiras and Josh Baum will be in conversation with local Kabbalah enthusiast, Rabbi Michael Panitz. This online event is presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Simon Family JCC, and Community Partners’ 12th annual Israel Today series, as a part of the Lee & Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival. It is free and open to the community; registration is required.

After hearing from the author and illustrator, community members are invited to create their own illustrations during a hands-on workshop offered by the Konikoff Center for Learning at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Local artist Sharon Serbin will lead attendees through Malkah’s Aleph-Bet workshop, Following the Journey of your Name. In this workshop, participants will have the chance to investigate the kabbalistic approach to the letters of their name and then illustrate their name in a way that is personal and meaningful. No previous art experience or perceived talent is required. All materials will be supplied.

For more information about Malkah’s Journey or any of these opportunities, visit JewishVA.org/BookFest or contact Hunter Thomas at HThomas@Ujft.org.

-Sierra Lautman
Letter to the Editor