December 21, 2000
Mural, Mural on the Wall
A new mural joins the A-list of great Jewish murals in Los Angeles. At Kehillat Israel, the Reconstructionist congregation in Pacific Palisades, local artist and temple member Wanda Warburton-Peretz recently unveiled "The Jewish Holidays," a 16-foot by 8-foot mural depicting Judaism's annual celebration cycle.
The bright, almost kinetic work uses child-friendly designs and splashy colors, while the words "Shabbat Shalom" glow warmly in the center.
The mural took two years to design and about 200 hours to execute on a curved wall in the rotunda that joins --appropriately -- the Early Childhood Center and the religious school classrooms. Warburton-Peretz based her design largely on what she learned while attending Rabbi Neil Weinberg's Introduction to Judaism class at the University of Judaism.
"Learning about the ethical principles, historical and agricultural significance, the symbolic foods and objects associated with each of the Jewish holidays was so amazing during my conversion process," she said. "The idea of a mural started percolating in my mind even before I went into the mikvah. I am so pleased to have finally completed it in a place where kids of all ages can enjoy the colorful characters and scenes, and educators can use it as a teaching tool."
The artist worked with both of Kehillat Israel's rabbis, Steven Carr Reuben and Sheryl Lewart, as well as religious school director Nancy Levin, to personalize and fine-tune the overall design, weaving in pictures of the main sanctuary's Torah covers and a ceramic tzedakah box that is presented to each new bar and bat mitzvah. It also features the Reconstructionist Press' machzor and siddur and its newly published Passover haggadah, "A Night of Questions."
The mural was dedicated on Oct. 20, just before Kehillat Israel's Simchat Torah celebration. During a brief ceremony, Warburton-Peretz was honored for her "creative Jewish spirit." Kehillat Israel's senior staff presented her with a beautiful handmade tallit. Rabbis Reuben and Lewart, along with Cantor Chayim Frenkel, officiated at the ceremony and gave Warburton-Peretz the honor of carrying the first Torah around the sanctuary during the Simchat Torah processionals.