A New Year: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

A New Year: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Julia Vogl

It was wonderful to be back in Boston for a brief stint to reconnect with the landscape, the community and the history. Pathways to Freedom is as much a process as it is a final outcome, and my three days here threw me into the deep end of project design, freedom discussion, and Simchat Torah dancing.

From the airport I journeyed directly to a Sukkah at Temple Emanuel of Newton, where I met a core of area synagogue representatives, all keen to explore how the Jewish community could be ambassadors for this project. Their contributions and insight showed me that they are an incredible resource in understanding how, together, we can collectively re-explore the telling of the Passover story.

I left that organic sukkah structure for Boston City Hall, where on the 8th floor – in a neon green concrete office, with a window facing a hallway- I presented for the Boston Arts Commission. They seemed convinced that Pathways was a needed project for Boston, and supportive of my strategy of how to lace the many disparate communities across the city into an artwork. They questioned my materials, and approach, but in the end unanimously voted to OK the concept – and more importantly, to advocate to the Parks department on our behalf.

Their approval is critical not only to have art experts championing this public art project, but also to OK this artwork happening on the historic site of the Parkman Band Stand plaza in the Boston Common.

Yes- that is right- we are attempting to take over a piece of the Boston common for 8 days in the spring.

My next post will be about the significance of the Band Stand- but I will leave you with this image – just to say it looks like it’s meant to be! Fingers crossed it is.

Following my City Hall presentation, the next stop was meeting with the JArts Art Think Tank – a talented group of young Jewish arts advocates and leaders to discuss the project strategy, and who in the community I should engage with. After building a diverse list, we are now charged with narrowing it down to partners and opportunities that are most critical to telling a broad and deep story of freedom.  It’s all very exciting, and while I can’t confirm any groups or sites yet- I think partnership will be key and I think I will know Boston really, really well at the end of this – maybe even going places that life-long Bostonians have never ventured too…

I ended my trip accompanying some friends to a Simchas Torah celebration. As we danced around, singing joyously, I thought about how the Torah sort of ends on a downer- with Moses dying. But before we can dwell on that for too long we start again- “In the Beginning…”  So as a New Jewish Year begins, I leave you with a challenge inspired by my week: Strike a pose to demonstrate what Freedom feels like! Is it heavy with responsibility or light like liberation, or something totally different??