“Who is wise? One who learns from every person.”Wisdom of the Sages, Pirkei Avot 4:1
How are we each both receivers and givers of wisdom? The Wisdom Exchange Archive is an ongoing project serving as a repository for Wisdom Letters and their ceramic wisdom vessels. Since July 2021, this project has invited individuals and communities to share their wisdom. Wisdom includes valuable lessons learned that writers wish to impart, hopes for loved ones, and reflections on where they find meaning in life. Together, the voices collected in the Wisdom Exchange represent the multi-vocal lived experience and insights of different communities in the Boston area during a time of a global pandemic. The archive collection consists of advice, values, aphorisms, and hopes by people ranging in age from 6 to 96.
You are invited to explore this archive, where you will find audio recordings of letters and their hand-written counterparts, as well as images of the ceramic vessels that participants created to hold their insights. In some cases, participants may have created all three of these or some combination of the three.
These letters were inspired by Jewish ethical wills, a type of legacy letter that can be found in ancient Jewish texts like the Bible and Talmud (Jewish oral law). The popularity of ethical wills increased among Jewish thinkers of the 12th century and they still inspire Jews today.
Further inspired by the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in ceramic jars after centuries of preservation, the Wisdom Exchange brought different communities together to make Wisdom Vessels and to write these legacy letters in a collaborative process of exchange, acknowledgement, and co-learning. As you explore the archive, you will hear audio letters read by other participants and not by the original authors, a process that preserves the author’s anonymity and reinforces the sharing of their wisdom.
The Wisdom Vessels were created in clay and fired in the Japanese raku style, a glazing and firing process that results in unpredictable, beautiful outcomes – much like the experience of living with the uncertainty of a pandemic.
Led by artist Shirah Rubin, this project has involved workshops with the following Boston-area groups: 2Life Golda Meir House, 2Life Shillman House, 2Life Brown House, Camp Yavneh, the Jewish Community Day School of Boston, and the Brookline Arts Center.
Contribute a Wisdom Letter
Share your anonymous letter through email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5/1/22. Letters will be collected and exhibited on 5/22 at the Closing Showcase.
Add your voice to the archive and be remembered for generations to come. There’s still time to submit your own Wisdom Letter to the digital archive and to be part of this community of voices reflecting on living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Submitting a letter to this archive is a great way to honor a transition moment in your life, or a life cycle stage – whether you’re moving into a new home, welcoming a new family member, grieving a loss, reflecting on a journey or other passage. The Wisdom Exchange welcomes your values and insights and will be honored to preserve them for future generations.
Enable your voice to be heard but your identity to remain anonymous. You can gain a sense of belonging by contributing with a group of friends, with your family, or on your own. The act of writing and archiving these letters provides the possibility of being remembered by future generations.
If you are interested in having this project travel to your venue or for other queries please Email: email@example.com