Jessica Tamar Deutsch, a New Rochelle native, recently published her first book, entitled, “The Illustrated Pirkei Avot: A Graphic Novel of Jewish Ethics.” It is an illustrated version of Pirkei Avot. In this book, Deutsch presents over 120 illustrations depicting the teachings of Pirkei Avot with English translations. This book is for all ages and all levels of prior Jewish knowledge.
Deutsch described her first book as the result of a four-year project she began when she was a student attending The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York. After graduation, Print-o-Craft publishers of Philadelphia accepted her project and published this book.
To explain what inspired her to write this book, Deutsch recalled, “I came across a commentary on Pirkei Avot, written by the Maharal, the 16th-century Prague rabbi and the creator of the Golem. I was inspired by his teachings, and for a creative person like myself, it was fun to visualize and illustrate the Maharal’s teachings.”
Deutsch acknowledged, “It feels great to know that people are taking my work to deepen their Jewish connection and finding a different way to study Jewish teachings.” She was most proud that her work “is making Torah study easier and more accessible to many different types of students.” She hopes that “students who find textual study in Hebrew difficult now have my work offering a different way for students to learn.” Deutsch is thrilled for her book to be used as a text in educational settings, both Jewish and non-Jewish. It can be used in any classroom, or even as a children’s coloring book. Print-o-Craft also publishes a Teacher’s Guide to accompany her work.
Deutsch is currently sketching a children’s book on Rabbi Nachman of Uman, and is also working at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with Rabbi Simcha Weinstein on a comic book, using his life story and the backdrop of Jewish life in the borough.
She continues to show her artwork at the Biennale in Jerusalem and at multiple venues and galleries in New York City.
Nominated by her publisher, David Z. Kalman of Print-o-Craft, Deutsch was selected for this year’s New York Jewish Week’s annual list of ‘36 under 36.’ Deutsch explained, “I am truly honored and humbled by this award. As an artist, it is a great feeling that so many people are interested and inspired by your work.”
On the Shabbat following her being named to this list, Rabbi Reuven Fink of the Young Israel of New Rochelle publicly acknowledged her achievement in creating this unique chinuch tool, and expressed the pride of the community.
According to her website, Deutsch is a New York-based artist whose “work explores the intersection of ancient tradition and contemporary culture.” Deutsch attended Westchester Day School, SAR Academy, Ramaz Upper School, the Midreshet HaRova Beit Midrash in Jerusalem’s Old City, and The New School’s Parsons School of Design, where she earned a bachelor’s of fine arts in illustration.
More information about this talented young artist can be found on her website, http://www.jessicatdeutsch.com.
By Judy Berger