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The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box

Apr 9, 2015–May 17, 2015

Started in 1984 and now in its tenth iteration, The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational is an important component of The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM)’s long-standing tradition of inviting artists from a variety of backgrounds to explore a Jewish ceremonial object within the context of their own medium and artistic philosophy. For this invitational, The CJM asked 38 West Coast fine artists and contemporary craftspeople to reimagine the tzedakah box, and the thought-provoking results are on view in this exhibition.


For this Invitational, artists were invited to create works of art that reinterpret the tzedakah box (or pushke in Yiddish), a traditionally humble container found in synagogues, Jewish homes, and institutions in which charitable donations are deposited. This ritual object relates to one of the most important obligations in Judaism—the obligation to give to those in need regardless of your means. Hebrew for “righteousness,” tzedakah is the act of charity in Jewish culture and faith, and the tzedakah box is a physical reminder of this commitment. While it is not linked to any specific holiday, it is traditional for coins to be placed in the box on Shabbat. Making the act visible in this way allows it to become a teaching tool for the next generation.

Participating artists were encouraged to interpret this unique object from a contemporary perspective, exploring its ongoing relevance and universality. Working in a wide range of media, from wood to glass to paint and graphite, the artists have explored many facets of the tradition.

exhibition catalOG

The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box exhibition is accompanied by a catalog, with full color plates of each work in the exhibition and related essays.

image gallery
Artists on the Tzedakah Box

Watch as 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational artists Randy Colosky and Amy Fanceschini talk about their artistic practices and the creative process that led to their respective tzedakah boxes.

featured artists

Gale Antokal, San Jose, CA
Anzfer Farms, San Francisco, CA
Rick Araluce, Seattle, WA
John Bankston, San Francisco, CA
Anthony Berlant, Los Angeles, CA
Terry Berlier, Oakland, CA
Harriete Estel Berman, San Mateo, CA
Mark Bulwinkle, Oakland, CA
Randy Colosky, Oakland, CA
Julia Couzens, Clarksburg, CA
Yvonne Escalante, San Jose, CA
Bella Feldman, Oakland, CA
Amy Franceschini, San Francisco, CA
Erik Geschke, Portland, OR
Rebekah Goldstein, San Francisco, CA
Matthew Gottschalk, Oakland, CA
Johanna Grawunder, San Francisco, CA
Beth Grossman, Brisbane, CA
Trisha Hassler, Portland, OR

Dana Hemenway, San Francisco, CA
Mildred Howard, Oakland, CA
Stephen Kaltenbach, Davis, CA
Steve Klein, La Conner, WA
Lisa Kokin, Richmond, CA
Deborah Lozier, Oakland, CA
Cybele Lyle, Oakland, CA
Liz Mamorsky, San Francisco, CA
Andy Paiko, Portland, OR
Leah Rosenberg, San Francisco, CA
Zachary Royer Scholz, San Francisco, CA
Maha Saab, Los Angeles, CA
Kay Sekimachi, Berkeley, CA
Nancy Selvin, Berkeley, CA
Richard Shaw, Fairfax, CA
Michael Stevens, Sacramento, CA
Paul Taylor, Oakland, CA
Caroline Thomas, Los Angeles, CA
Gail Wight, Berkeley, CA

Auction and celebration

All of the tzedakah boxes in the exhibition were available for purchase in a silent auction which began on Thursday, April 9, and culminated on Tuesday, May 12, 2015  during a tickted celebration that honored the close circle of remarkable founders of The CJM, formerly known as The Jewish Community Museum, which originally opened to the public in 1984. This elegant and festive evening also featured live music, an exclusive opportunity to meet many of the artists, and view the other CJM exhibitions.

Amy FranceschinI

Explore Amy Franceschini’s individual and collaborate creative practices—an an artist and as the design studio and artists’ collective Futurefarmers.

Randy Colosky

Berkeley-based Randy Colosky uses unexpected materials in new ways, creating work that is conceptually and materially based. 


The 2015 Dorothy Saxe Invitational: Tzedakah Box is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco. An endowed sponsorship for this exhibition is provided by Dorothy R. Saxe. Major support has been provided by an Anonymous donor, Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank, Phyllis Cook, Dana Corvin and Harris Weinberg, and Gaia Fund. Participating support has been provided by Naomi and Jeffrey Caspe, Rosanne and Al Levitt, and Wendy and Richard Yanowitch.

Additional support is provided by members of The Saxe Invitational Event Host Committee, including additional contributions by Marcia and John Goldman, Susan and Joel Hyatt, Barbara and Ron Kaufman, Rosanne and Al Levitt, Phyllis Moldaw, Barbro and Bernard Osher, Lisa and John Pritzker, Ruth Seiler, Esther and Barry Sherman, Roselyne Chroman Swig, Marilyn and Murry Waldman, and Ron and Anita Wornick.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: Randy Colosky, Tzedakah Box, 2015. Engineered ceramic honeycomb, 10 x 5 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. Photo by JKA Photography.