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Friday, October 30, 2020

Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword Against Nation | By Raphael Kail

I am a water colorist. In 2018, noticing the rise in Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and religious intolerance in general, I had the urge to put something down on paper. I decided on Isaiah 2:4, "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

Phonetically, the Hebrew reads, "Lo Yisa Goy El Goy Herev, ViloYilmdoo Ode Mealchamaw." "Lo" means "no", "Goy" means "nation," and it also means "other."  In my mind, this word from YHWH was not only intended to move people from war to peace, but was intended to instruct people to get along in general. To follow God’s way, we need to not just coexist, but to respect each other. I created this piece of art.

Two years ago, when the eleven people were murdered in The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I was strongly affected on two levels. First, as someone who is Jewish, I realized these people died only because they were Jewish, and if I happened to be there for whatever reason, I possibly would have been martyred also.  Second, how could this happen again in America? With permission from my synagogue, Temple Sinai of Dresher, I built a large memorial for the congregation’s front lawn to plead to the world to wake up. I wanted to make a statement.

I did this to honor those who were murdered, but also to plead to our country, stop this madness.
A short while later, two Mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand were attacked, and then a Catholic church in Asia. With Temple Sinai's help, we created a committee with the goal to create, with churches, mosques, and synagogues in our community, a group, to gather, to learn about our differences and identify what we have in common.  Knowledge is the key to understanding others. The committee is The Interfaith Partnership Initiative.  Our committee was short lived because of Covid-19. We are only being temporarily stopped; we will eventually continue!

About Raphael Kail:
I am retired after a career of over forty years in the furniture industry. As a hobby, I have always been good being creative with woodworking, but in 1990, after a lifelong admiration of water colors, I decided to take a class. I have now been in three galleries. For more information on the memorial at Temple Sinai of Dresher, contact Rabbi Adam Wohlberg. 215-643-6510.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Prayer" by Margaret Matt | Art and Identity Series

 Today's blog post comes from Philadelphia artist Margaret Matt. If you are interested in submitting an art piece and reflection to our blog, please email Liz Royer at or Dr. John Hougen at

I have been a professional artist for more than 40 years. I design computer graphics for print materials and web design. I am also a traditional artist who creates realistic images, from portraits to narrative pieces. My religious art is a different experience. I meditate on a Bible verse and then begin to create it. What is interesting to me, if the art speaks a truth, it takes on a life of its own. People see different aspects to it. If it isn’t right, it falls flat. No amount of technical skill can bring life to it. During the creative process, I feel a responsibility to do the very best I can and be true to the Bible verse. These art pieces also speak to all ages in different ways. They have a unique affect that is different from my other art pieces. My husband, George Butler, also has an artistic photographic outlook. He helps clarify my vision with thoughtful suggestions. 

 I live in Philadelphia and am a Roman Catholic. I am a lector at Our Mother of Consolation Church. I also participate in the church’s faith building groups. These have been very instrumental to my faith life.


My website is: I can be reached at:


"Prayer" by Margaret Matt 

Medium: photography and computer graphic design 


Dear Lord, I feel the vastness of your world. The air, wind and hot sun. Yet, I feel alone, empty and in need. I don’t know where to go next. I am reaching inward for strength which is eluding me. I need to feel your presence. Your power. Your guidance. Your love. The wind wraps around me. I feel it but don’t see it. I imagine that it is the Holy Spirit making His presence known. The sun is warming me but it is blinding also. I bow down and plead for relief and mercy. Please strengthen me. Please forgive me. I am scared.

I gather myself and look outward. Reaching out to hear and feel your presence. I become aware of your earthly universe around me. I need to feel again your love, your presence. Strengthen my faith. Do not abandon me. I reach out to you. And see your works around me. I feel comfort.  I am not whole but know that I am not alone. The sun’s warmth is comforting. My mind is filled with confusing thoughts. I cannot still myself. Then I remember your words: “Be Still and know that I AM.”  I focus on your words.” I AM” is around me. I feel and see “I AM”. And I begin to still my thoughts and feel your calm.

I remember to offer praise. Thank you for all around me. The stillness is now comforting. I reach my arms up to open myself and praise you. “Holy, Holy , Holy Lord. God of Power and Might. Heaven and earth are filled with your Glory. Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Holy, Holy Holy Lord.”

I ask for forgiveness and for help. Guidance.

My heart is stilled. Comfort surrounds me and calms me. In gratitude, I thank you and praise you, O Lord. Guide me today.