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Art and Spirituality Lecture with Rabbi William Hamilton

Art and Spirituality Lecture with Rabbi William Hamilton

Rabbi William G. Hamilton will deliver the fourth annual Art and Spirituality lecture at the monastery on Wednesday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Hamilton will speak on, "Doing The Impossible: The Art of bringing Spiritual Goods to Life." The 2024 lecture by Rabbi Hamilton is free and open to the public.

The title for this presentation is based upon a quote from Brother Thomas, “First you do what is necessary, then you do what’s possible, and before you know it, you are doing the impossible.”

The talk will focus on the spiritual merits of responsive living as an art form. Rabbi Hamilton will offer sources and resources to address three essential challenges of our time from the perspective of his Jewish tradition using Brother Thomas's quote as a framework. He explains:

  1. How to deal with difficult texts, people, and conversations - in what I deem the necessary.
  2. How to respond to those things we cannot control (from our daily interactions and our inbox to the way history unfolds) - in what I deem the possible.
  3. How to produce tools and skills we’ve never before possessed - in what I deem the impossible.

Rabbi William G. Hamilton has led Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, Massachusetts, since 1995. He strives to activate Torah in the service of meaningful living – nourishing growth, solacing grief, and deepening joy.

Empowering learners is at the heart of his leadership approach. A commitment to inclusion is also central to Rabbi Hamilton. His deep involvement with the Ruderman Foundation’s work for disability inclusion alongside his Board leadership with New England Yachad, complements a principled commitment to gender, ideological, and diversified practice inclusion at KI.

Rabbi Hamilton’s vision for partnership practice now shapes a new century at Kehillath Israel. Establishing a campus that hosts five prayer communities and several other agencies under his leadership has made KI the subject of a Harvard Business School Case-Study.

He enjoys playing sports and rooting for local teams. His wife, Debbie Block, an accomplished historian and educator, gathered, produced and edited Kehillath Israel: The First 100 Years.

The Pucker Family Fund, Pucker Gallery, Boston, is the sponsor of a the annual Art and Spirituality speaker series that honors the Erie monastery’s late artist-in-residence Brother Thomas Bezanson and Erie Benedictine Sisters Joan Chittister and Maureen Tobin.

Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk and an internationally renowned ceramic artist, was invited in 1985 by then prioress Sister Joan Chittister to become artist-in-residence with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania. He continued to create beauty in his studio in Erie until his death in August 2007.

A master of complex glazes and purity of form, Brother Thomas’s works are in numerous galleries and museums, and are included in over 80 international collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

“Thomas has been brother, standard-bearer of beauty, pursuer of the spiritual and holder of the heart of holiness of which monasticism speaks and which it pursues in time and out of time, in the sacred – and in the profane,” wrote Sister Joan. “Clearly, great art is a very spiritual thing. More, a great spiritual life is itself a piece of great art. It is the ultimate creativity. To Thomas God said, ‘Let there be art’ and, behold, it came to be.”

Joan Chittister is one of the most influential religious and social leaders of our time. She is a best-selling author of more than 60 books, the executive director of Benetvision, a resource and research center for contemporary spirituality and the founder and animator of Monasteries of the Heart, an online community sharing Benedictine spirituality with contemporary seekers.

Sister Maureen Tobin, friend and sister to Brother Thomas and Sister Joan, brought a particular spark and energy to her support of both Thomas and Joan in their creative work. She provided a steady and solid keel for both. Sister Maureen, a Benedictine Sister of Erie, died in 2017.

Read more about Brother Thomas, Sister Joan and Sister Maureen.

The 2021 lecture, “Beauty, Art, Spirituality: A Study in Soul, in Spirit, in Bread and in Lilies,” was delivered by Sister Joan Chittister and is available here.

The 2022 lecture, “The Spirituality of Icons, " by Jeana Visel, OSB, is available here.

The 2023 lecture, "Bunbu Ryodo - a surgeon’s experience," by Dr. Geoffrey Dunn, is available here.