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Jewish Culture & IdeasFilm & Video

Prayer for Burnt Forests

Prayer for Burnt Forests, the latest video in the My Golem series, extends upon the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam (to heal the world) by upholding the land’s right to rest and recuperation, after having suffered for humanity’s sins. Together with Rabbi Zach Fredman, Weitz has created a prayer intended to be read and delivered in nature as a gesture of respect, restoration, and genesis. In the video, Weitz’s golem traverses the recently-charred landscape of Tongva land in Southern California, performing the prayer as a ritual dance.

In Prayer for Burnt Forests, ecology is framed within the traditional Jewish concept of fire as a force for hope and as a foundational element in spiritual ritual. In a modern twist, however, Golem’s fire is specifically a decolonizing “cultural fire,” which connects her religious awakening to California’s Indigenous practices of fire ecology. As a diasporic justice seeker, Golem adapts her culture’s ancient traditions with contemporary urgency, while honoring local communities, the land, and long-established local practices. At stake is the larger conviction that advocacy for traditional ecological knowledge, combined with ancient Jewish practices, can be a powerful means of healing and reshaping climate and land management policy.

To pay respect and recognize Native Nations, consider learning about the indigenous land you reside on and looking into indigenous land rematriation.

THE PRAYER

The prayer is available for download in English, Hebrew, Spanish, and Arabic.

About the Exhibition

Uncanny, mysterious, and satirical, GOLEM: A Call to Action is an exhibition by artist Julie Weitz that draws on Jewish folklore to inspire action around social justice and environmental disasters. The exhibition’s three works—Golem v. Golem, My Golem as a Wildland Firefighter, and Prayer for Burnt Forests—frame a view of nature that emphasizes cultural issues and ecological catastrophe, while acknowledging human beings’ implicit responsibility for repair.

An image of My Golem running across a dusty path
About the Artist
Headshot of Julie Weitz
Julie Weitz

Julie Weitz ​is a Los Angeles–based artist working in video, performance, and installation. Weitz has been featured in ​Artforum, Art in America, The L.A. Times, The New York Times, Bomb Magazine, L.A. Confidential, Photograph Magazine, Hyperallergic​ and on ​KCRW​. She is a 2020–2021 Cultural Trailblazer of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and a Helix Fellow at Yiddishkayt. Weitz is also ​a 2020 recipient of the Fulcrum Arts Emerge Program and a 2019 nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Weitz has received grants from the California Center for Cultural Innovation, Asylum Arts, American Jewish University, the Banff Centre and the Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture. She currently teaches in Los Angeles and is a contributing writer to ​Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. Weitz also founded the Instagram account @Jews4BlackLives, which serves as an educational hub for the Jewish activist community in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Weitz can also be found on Instagram @mygolem_is_here.

CREDITS

Co-Directors, Julie Weitz and D.S. Chun

Director of Photography, Mustafa Rony Zeno

Music Production and Sound Design, Daniel Ori

Composer / Oud, Zach Fredman

Vocalist, Deborah Sacks Mintz

Costume Designer, Jill Spector

Performer, Julie Weitz

Prayer Co-Writers, Zach Fredman and Julie Weitz

Hebrew Translator, Yarden Stern

The artist would like to acknowledge grant support from Asylum Arts and American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity.

Supporters

GOLEM: A Call to Action is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum and is co-curated by Qianjin Montoya, Assistant Curator, and Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator. 

Leadership support is generously provided by Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt. Additional support is generously provided by Asylum Arts, American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity, and CANVAS.

Image Credit

Julie Weitz, Prayer for Burnt Forest (1), 2021. Photo: Aaron Farley