“Goy Division T-shirt,” Jacob Rath, 2016, cotton and ink, 26″ x 24″
It can be a two-way street! The “Goy division” T-shirt reminds us that, as many Jews in America celebrate Christmas as an American holiday, many Christians have come to celebrate Passover—after all, the founding fathers saw the Revolution-era Americans as Israelites who had escaped through the great sea from the oppression of the Pharaoh George III, and Benjamin Franklin’s original proposal for the Seal for the new Republic was a version of the image that Rath has imprinted in white outlines against the dark surface of the t-shirt front: Moses leading his followers through the sea bed while the waters are held back to either side. “Pesah” below, “Goy Division” above, are both written in Hebrew—“Goy” being the standard word for non-Jews that has evolved from its biblical roots along increasingly uncomplimentary lines. Of course, in the religion and politics of today’s America, there are whole squadrons of evangelical Christians as supportive of the State of Israel as there are Jews—or more so.
Jacob Rath is an artist who primarily makes artwork that has an interactive component. He likes making Judaica, because it allows him to participate in ancient traditions and to better understand them. When making Judaica, he is interested in creating objects that stay true to tradition, while also exploring new territory. He also likes to make objects that balance the values and traditions of the multiple (sub)cultures and communities that he participates in. He has a particular love of objects that simultaneously follow rules, break rules, and explore the territory not defined. He currently lives in Minnneapolis, MN, and is a member of Shir Tikvah synagogue. Follow Jacob on Instagram @jacobrathart.