WORD Grant 2016: The Bruce Geller Memorial Prize

The WORD Grant, a project of American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity, supports artists creating projects that explore Jewish ideas, themes, tradition, history, and identity. We believe in supporting a contemporary, vibrant, Jewish cultural landscape in Los Angeles.


  • Rabbi Sarah Bassin

    Tipsy Torah: Baseless Hatred

    How can a snub at a party lead to the destruction of Jerusalem?  Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills YoPro and Rabbi Sarah Bassin, will create a short video parody of Drunk History featuring the Talmudic drama of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.

    Amount Awarded: $800.00



    Allen Ginsburg Poem Comes to Life: an original contemporary dance

    BODYTRAFFIC Co-Artistic Directors Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett commission Jewish-American choreographer Richard Siegal, a luminary in the contemporary dance world, to make an Allen Ginsburg poem come to life. Set to music by George Gershwin, the non-profit dance company will preview the work with live orchestra at CalTech on August 20th. 

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Rebecca Bruno

    'we are inseparable there is no time'

    'we are inseparable there is no time' is a new performance installation combining intimate durational dance, sculpture, film, drawing, and sound presented for one week at the Honor Fraser Gallery in June, 2016. Central to the work is a text exchange on Instagram about a 100 person human wall needed to guard representatives of the organization Women of the Wall as they read from a public Torah scroll in the women's prayer section of the Kotel in 2015. This was an illegal act and catalyst for this exhibition's questions about the embodied nature of religion and worship, the social implications of gender division in prayer, and how a meditation with the body and on the natural elements may help to reflect on these issues.


    Amount Awarded: $1,000.00


  • Emily Bowen Cohen

    An American-Indian Guide to the Day of Atonement

    "An American Indian Guide to the Day of Atonement” is a mini-comic about the struggle of prayer on Yom Kippur. This step-by-step guide explains how the author forgave her long-dead American Indian father on the holiest day of the Jewish year. 

    Amount Awarded: $1,000.00


  • Debra Disman

    The Sheltering Book

    "The Sheltering Book" will be a life-sized book structure which will become the backdrop for community bookmaking workshops drawing parallels between the meaning and architecture of the book, and that of the Sukkah. The project also explores the relationship between the public sphere and private space, whether that space be our personal creativity, where we create, or what we create.

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Michelle Green Willner, DMA

    The Stain Remained on the Wall

    The dramatic musical composition, "The Stain Remained on the Wall," is a Hebraic suite for violin, mezzo-soprano, bass-baritone, and piano. Although not dealing directly with the Holocaust, the Israeli texts utilized together encompass a hopeless urgency to recognize an oncoming darkness and to face a lack of transparency, while attempting to alleviate the effects of blood that has been shed.

    Amount Awarded: $1,000.00


  • Aaron Henne


    theatre dybbuk will present  “exagoge,” inspired by the second century B.C.E. play by Ezekiel the Poet, with world premiere performances at Temple Israel of Hollywood (June 18-19). The Los Angeles Tour continues at Grand Park/The Music Center (July 23) and Fowler Museum at UCLA (Aug. 6). Relating the ancient play's exploration of the Biblical Exodus narrative to contemporary issues, the production weaves in modern day investigations of refugee and immigrant experiences  illuminating  our relationship to the ongoing crises of people fleeing oppression around the world. The Leimert Park Choir/Harmony Project, comprised of young artists, will provide the live musical vocabulary for the work.

    Amount Awarded: $1,000.00


  • Andrea Hodos

    Sinai & Sunna: Travelers' Prayer

    Travelers' Prayer, a project of Sinai & Sunna, will invite several women from different parts of the Jewish and Muslim communities to create a short ensemble performance piece using words and movement from their own lives in response to ancient Jewish and Muslim Travelers' Prayers.  The performance will be presented at the Spotlight storytelling event of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change on November 17, 2016.

    Amount Awarded: $1,600.00


  • Anne Hromadka

    Nu ART Projects - Pop-up Exhibition

    Nu ART Projects (Insert Jewish Culture Here) is launching a Pop-Up Museum. This is a temporary exhibition created by the participants encouraging them to share their stories and engage with Jewish subject matter. You might find the Nu ART Pop-Up Museum at a Jewish day school, at a Jewish Community Center, at your campus Hillel, at your local farmer's market, at the beach, at a community garden, outside a Silverlake coffee shop, at an outdoor movie screening, outside a regional music venue, at Runyon Canyon or at your next neighborhood gathering.

    Amount Awarded: $800.00


  • Julia Kantor

    Chansonim in Venice

    Paris Chansons presents: “Chansonim in Venice” – an unforgettable night of French and Israeli music.  From the songs of Aznavour, Piaf and Macias to passionate Hebrew favorites, you will be transported to Paris, Tel Aviv and beyond!  

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Eileen Levinson

    Forgiveness Poster Project

    Eileen Levinson will design the Forgiveness Poster Project, a series of six typographic posters featuring texts from High Holiday liturgy and responses from Jewish writers. 

    Amount Awarded:$800.00


  • Louise Reichlin

    A Jewish Child's Story

    This new narrated/dance/multimedia project will be developed and presented by Louise Reichlin & Dancers/ Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers. It will be previewed during the San Pedro ♥ Festival of the Arts in September.

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Racelle Rosett

    A Wing and A Prayer

    Racelle's work will involve writing a chapbook of poems of "prayers we need now." Bringing the liturgical tradition of "piyut" forward to create prayer that reflects the needs of the community in LA in this moment. The project will culminate with a reading and poetry/prayer writing/making workshop. 

    Amount Awarded: $1,000.00


  • Corrie Siegel

    Exodus on Sunset

    Exodus on Sunset is a collaborative project that enlists community members, artists, students, and business owners to use the story told in Exodus as a jumping off point to share personal and historic narratives through a sidewalk festival and tableau vivant along Sunset Boulevard.

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Hillel Smith

    Hebrew Community Mural

    Artist Hillel Smith will paint a new Hebrew mural, the latest in his series of typographic murals utilizing ancient Jewish content in his highly contemporary style.

    Amount Awarded: $1,500.00


  • Rina Taraseiskey

    Vedem Underground

    Vedem Underground is an art exhibit that deconstructs and reinterprets the literary work of the teenage Jewish creators of the longest-running underground magazine in a Nazi camp. Using a combination of pop-art graphics, archival photographs and illustrations, and the prose and poetry of teenage boy prisoners in Czechoslovakia’s Terezin Ghetto, Vedem Underground breaks down the 83 weekly issues totaling the 800 pages of Vedem (“In The Lead” in Czech”), then reconstructs them in the form of a contemporary magazine. 


    Amount Awarded: $1,200.00


  • Heather Zeiden

    Transforming Jewish Text Through Artists' Books

    Heather will teach a 2-part weekend workshop entitled "Transforming Jewish Text Through Artists' Books". In this workshop, students will explore the text of the Ten Commandments and visualize them through the medium of book arts, culminating in a public exhibition of their work.


    Amount Awarded: $800.00


This exciting venture was made possible through a generous Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. 

Bruce and Jeannette Geller were influential Los Angeles residents whose passion for creativity and the pursuit of art defined their lives. Bruce Geller was an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter most famous for creating, directing and producing the highly successful TV show, Mission Impossible.