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Making Space for Grief

Artist Charlie Dov Schön uses public art to hold and process personal and collective grief.

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Jun 25, 2024



This Curation is part of Be the Change.

Explore the full collection

As we witness unimaginable global violence, struggle with tensions in our local communities, and tend to our personal hearts, this installation seeks to offer a moment of relief, inviting viewers to share their burdens. 

Charlie sewing an amulet whose color, shape, and details represent the ways in which community members experience grief.

Charlie sewing an amulet whose color, shape, and details represent the ways in which community members experience grief.


The tzedakah box, designed by Charlie Dov Schön, serves as a physical holding space for amulets made by the community. Amulets are objects, often charms or jewelry, thought to be inscribed with a magic incantation or symbol to aid the wearer or protect against evil.

While Jewish tradition is generally seen as opposed to magic, amulets have a long history in Jewish practice and their use was accepted by ancient rabbis, who appeared to believe in their power. References to amulets are found throughout the Talmud, which suggests their popularity and significance. One Talmudic passage suggests that amulets were used by ancient rabbis to repel demons. 

Each amulet hanging off the structure represents one person’s survey answers; and their individual grieving process. As more people offer their experiences, the sculpture grows. We are not alone in our sorrow, even if each person’s grief takes a unique shape.    

Community participants will be invited to add amulets to the piece wherever it travels. Each amulet will be created based on local and community participant responses, according to this survey, shared digitally prior to the construction of the piece. Each question about grief and the process of grieving will correlate to a feature of the amulet (shape, color, various details), with each answer creating a tangible object. 

Stay tuned as Charlie’s vision comes to life in the form of her Be the Change tzedakah box, scheduled to go up in The Fenway this August. 


JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture.

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