I wanted to introduce you to the artist doing ten custom works of calligraphic art for our project, Noam Sienna.
Noam is an incredibly talented scholar and artist (an excellent combination) who combines knowledge of Jewish book and manuscript history with a skill for several media. He's an accomplished henna artist in addition to his work with Hebrew, Arabic, and English calligraphy and illumination. Canadian by birth, Noam studied at Brandeis, the Hebrew University, and is now pursuing a doctorate at the University of Minnesota. He has an amazing knowledge of a wide range of historical hebrew scripts, and he brings that to his calligraphy and henna work.
Noam is going to be working on a range of pieces for us, from the strictly traditional calligraphic illustrations one might find in older Sephardi siddurim to elegant illuminations of prayers. Aharon and I are very excited for the knowledge, talent, and energy that Noam brings to the project, and I'm happy to share a draft of the first plate for the siddur.
This image will accompany Psalm 67, traditionally recited as part of the early morning prayers, just before Barukh sheAmar. The psalm's words easily divide into seven branches, taking on the form of the menorah. Sephardi minhag upholds that one is to recite the psalm while reading it in the form of the menorah rather than like typical text, forming a unique morning meditation. (Read more about the custom to write out the psalm this way and the meditations around it here, in a great piece by Shmuel Gonzales) I'm elated that Noam's depiction of Psalm 67 will be in Siddur Masorti, and I hope you are as excited as I am to meditate and pray with it next year. Without further ado: