Heart of the Onion, Barry Goldstein
Testimonials, "Art Scroll Project"
North Shore Congregation Israel (NSCI)
1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL 60022

The Lasky Arts Retreat began over 30 years ago with the vision of interpreting and exploring the Torah and key elements of Jewish life through the arts. For three days, 20 to 30 high school students relocate to Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute. There they embark upon a Jewish journey that includes, but is not limited to the development of Midrash through art, music, dance, theater, improvisation, and poetry. This retreat gives students the opportunity to use their unique talents and skills to understand the relevance of Judaism in their lives.  
In 2012, Barry Goldstein served as the Artist-in-residence for the Lasky weekend.  The artistic journey created and facilitated by Barry, exceeded all expectations set by the Lasky family, students and other facilitators. The art served as a platform for individual and collective work focused on the topics of our Jewish identity and our role in the ongoing interaction with the Torah and the Covenant.  Though the project allowed for significant personal reflection, it also relied upon collaboration by all the participants.  
The outcome mirrored the traditional view of Torah with its many layers of understanding.  Like the Torah there are clear and basic understandings one has when encountering the work. Also like the Torah, once opened, the meanings of each section are left to study and imagine.  
While the product impressed all who encountered it, the process yielded even greater fruit. Because the process was born out of each individual expression, the result was not limited or bound. There was very little boxed in, very few limitations; there were so many components that left everything to imagination and possibility.  Yet somehow, through Barry’s vision and guidance everything pulled together.  Here you had disparate people coming each with their own lens and applying their unique perspectives and somehow at the end, there was a unifying thing and shared experience of emotional depth.  I believe many were, in some measure, transformed by the experience.  We might never reach this pinnacle again. Kol Hakavod to Barry. Cantor David Goldstein, North Shore Congregation Israel

“Each year, NSCI invites an artist-in-residence to be the teacher/facilitator of a 3-day arts retreat for Jewish high school students.  Over the years, the students have explored art forms ranging from hip-hop spoken word poetry to music composition to metal sculpting.  We were excited to connect with Barry Goldstein to help us delve into the exploration of “Torah” through visual arts.  
After significant study of classic Jewish texts on Torah with our synagogue clergy, Barry constructed an incredible plan for the students that would enable them to literally create the Torah of their lives.  Barry thought through every possible details, from what the best supplies would be to what sort of environments would be needed to optimize both thoughtfulness, the creative process, and identity exploration, all deeply rooted in Jewish practice.
As a rabbi on the weekend, I observed each of our diverse student participants delve deeply into themselves, their beliefs, and then discover their own ways to make those realizations manifest artistically.  And all of that paled in comparison to the true power of what happened when the group came together to assemble their individual Torah panels into a linked scroll, and then construct the actual Torah’s Atzei Chaim, whimple, m’il, rimonim, breast plate and yad together out of natural, found objects.  It is hard to put into words the profound impact not just of the product that was created, but of the process as well.”  Rabbi Wendi Geffen, North Shore Congregation Israel

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