Come on a journey with me to an ancient volume, Masechet Ta’anit*, one of thirty-seven books of the Talmud, the compendium of Jewish Law. Each day, along with thousands of others, I study one page of this mammoth treasure of law and legends. The journey lasts more than Seven years.
In Ta’anit the rabbis ponder what a praying community can do to bring needed rains, and how to rid the community of pestilence, danger and plagues. Included in their arsenal were prayer, fasting, blowing the shofar and miracles. The question is how to make sense of this complicated book and add a visual component to it?
The Talmud is a winding road, so Ta’anit delves into other topics, such as the Temple in Jerusalem, mourning days of the Jewish calendar, the responsibilities of the priests and the secret good deeds of individuals who help to make the rains come.
For this project I chose one idea to explore for each of the thirty-one pages of the volume. Each image contains a page identifier, a Hebrew term worked into the image and one idea presented on each page of Ta’anit.
Ta’anit conveys messages established centuries ago, but these messages are relevant in this time of drought, floods and plague.
*The Tractate of Fasts
Leann Shamash, a photographer based in Greater Boston, aims to find spirituality through the lens of photography. As a Jewish educator, she hopes to visually convey the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel, that all objects, however mundane or small, can cause wonder and radical amazement. The camera is a lens that uncovers the soul, and whether the subjects are people, living or inanimate objects, each of them are imbued with inner beauty.
Leann’s work has been shown at the Newton and Brewster Ladies’ Library, New England Biolabs, Zullo Gallery, Brickbottom Gallery, Bromfield Gallery, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Indalo Gallery, the Daniels Art Gallery and she has participated in Newton Open Studios.
Leann was interviewed by Newton Cable Television on her work “Seasonal Bouquets: Wild and Cultivated” and also for her work on “Irma G: A Century of Hats and Spirit” and the “Beauty of Aging.”