The Jewish News of Northern California – “Benioff Friedman’s paintings,” writes Laura Paull, “range in style from the figurative to the nearly abstract. With muted colors and gentle gestures, they express the underlying tenderness of the subject.” That subject is chevra kadisha, Jewish burial societies who prepare bodies for interment and comfort the families of the deceased.
The article contrasts Benioff Friedman’s chevra kadisha paintings with those created in 18th-century Prague, and advertises an upcoming exhibition of her work, Feb. 5 through March 18, at Sinai Memorial Chapel in San Francisco. It includes commentary from two of the chapel’s leaders, and more information about Jewish burial practices and the principles behind them.
“Benioff Friedman trained in sculpture and drawing at Amherst College and the Boston Museum School,” Paull writes. These paintings are inspired by “her participation, since about 2001, in a chevra kadisha group at her Berkeley synagogue, Congregation Netivot Shalom ….”
“It seemed a really rich subject to tackle,” the artist says. “It’s about the body. But it’s also about the emotions we feel when doing this work of caring for the dead. There is no end to how many aspects of this practice I could imagine painting. This work could last decades.”