Shevat is a month of reawakening, when the trees begin to bloom, and the earth comes back to life after the darkness of winter. It is month of Water (Aquarius), often depicted as a deep well with promises of life-giving water, and linked to the growth of trees and the bounty of fruit. This Hebrew month roughly corresponds to February in the Gregorian/secular calendar.
The video on the left focuses first on a large menorah in the balcony of the Stanton Street Shul, embellished with motifs derived from vines and other vegetation, as well as the symbolic eagle (both a Jewish and an American sign) and a Star of David. Our gaze is pulled out the window to a typical apartment building on the Lower East Side, where heavy decor takes the place of actual nature.
music: traditional Yiddish song, performed by Sylvia Rubin Tepperman
The Central video is of the painting of the well in the Stanton Street Shul. Water is central to our lives, an absolute requirement for ocean life as well as life above ground. This video moves from the well to a thicket of vegetation in the wild, and then back to an image of the original Stanton Street mural which, like all the zodiacs in the shul, is decorated with motifs of vines and fruit. We now understand how important these vines are.
electronic music: contemporary composer Bob Gluck, vocals by Zoe Zak
The video on the right shows a detail of a less glamorous apartment building on the Lower East Side, dissolving into a photograph of two young sisters, Fannie Ruthberg Isseks (1889-1937) and Dottie Ruthberg Levine (1891-1991) who were born in Russia and brought to the USA as young children. The professional photo studio was on Grand Street in the heart of the LES, probably taken around 1914.
electronic music: contemporary composer Bob Gluck