First-Ever Jewish Art Exhibit Opens in Bucolic Wisconsin Town

Daytrippers to Cedarburg, Wisconsin, for its historic downtown area with its thriving arts community with numerous galleries and studios, are now visiting the “Unity Art Exhibition,” the brainchild of Chicago artist Sharone Goodman.

Daytrippers to Cedarburg, Wisconsin, come for its historic downtown area with preserved 19th-century architecture, thriving arts community with numerous galleries and studios, and a plethora of festivals, all in a family-friendly atmosphere with small-town charm.

Upon entering a charmingly restored home – the Jewish Discovery Center – they are greeted by a carefully curated collection of artwork from around the world. Dubbed the “Unity Art Exhibition,” it is the product of an international competition that was inspired by the attacks on Simchas Torah (October 7), the strong feelings of Jewish unity and spiritual awakening that it engendered.

The contest was the brainchild of Chicago artist Sharone Goodman, who maintains a second home in nearby Mequon.

“It all began with a single poster,” says Goodman, who has been painting since she was a child and teaching art since 1995.  “Right after the attacks, I wanted to do something to show our unity and wanted to create a piece of art that was the product of many minds and many hands. I had dozens of people draw faces on a single poster, ‘It’s Time,’ with the Bais HaMikdash in the background.”

After seeing the positive response the poster elicited, she extended the theme of unity to yet another project: Assigning artists in different countries, representing different ages and skill levels, to draw a letter of the Aleph Bais, which was then assembled into a single work of art.

Taking the unity theme to the next level, she and a team of leading artists then decided to hold their first-ever Unity Art Competition. Word spread, and submissions came in from the US, Israel, and even South Africa.

The submissions were then tastefully arranged in the Jewish Discovery Center, each piece of art displayed alongside a card with its name, and a brief description of what it expresses.

The submissions were then judged by a panel, which included award-winning architects Fred Wilson and Elissa Morgante, who came from Illinois for the purpose.

They selected first- second- and third-place winners in the adult tier, and also in the children’s tier, resulting in six winners in total.

The artwork will remain up all summer so that visitors to Cedarburg can browse the paintings, absorb their unifying message, and, in some instances, purchase prints or originals.

Goodman says she has received an outpouring of positive feedback, from a Milwaukee art teacher whose students were so excited to have their work shown in a “real” art exhibition to a stream of delighted messages and pictures from Tuvia Hoffman’s mother, winner in the children’s division, saying that he has been painting nonstop since learning that he won.

Reflecting on the next step, Goodman notes that possibilities abound. Like art itself, the program can be adapted and extended to fit the unique conditions of the communities and cultures in which the idea can be transplanted.

To hold a Unity Art Contest of your own, feel free to reach out to Sharone Goodman at (847) 778-6741 or [email protected].

Adult Tier Winners

1st: Sarah Horwitz – Yom Echad (

On the first day of creation, G-d said, “Let there be light.”  The potential for every physical thing.  The unity of everything and everyone in the world is present in that first emanation.

“… it is clear that the ultimate purpose of the creation and it’s fulfillment after the days of the exile must also be included in that first day, and indeed it is so.”

Excerpted from a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe dated 25 Elul 5710

2nd: Judith Joseph – Spring Tree (

“Spring Tree” is an expression of the “tree of life” which is a central symbol in Judaism. The tree of life is the Torah, the wellspring of holy learning, tradition and culture. I have written the Priestly Blessing in the branches of the tree:“May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.”

3rd: Dovid Grossman – Unity Bouquet (

Just as a garden thrives on the diversity of its flowers and fruits, a community is strengthened by the unique contributions of each individual.  Each flower and fruit, while different, plays a vital role in the garden’s overall beauty and health.  Similarly, each person’s distinct qualities contribute to the unity and richness of the whole.

Youth Tier Winners

1st:  Tuvia Hoffman – The Unity of the Letter “Tes” (age 8)

I was thinking of the ocean and dolphins jumping in the water. I also drew a collection of things that I like and make me smile and decided since my name starts with Tes, it would represent what I’m thinking about on the inside.

2nd- Mendy Goodman – All Things Come Together (age 8)

This painting shows the four elements coming together to form unity. The wise man, the simple man, the evil man, and the man who doesn’t know how to ask. Shaking the Four Species together to show how everyone can come together to unite as one.

3rd – Moriah Ben David – Circle Dance (age 11)

These women and girls, dancing together in a circle, represent a celebration dance to bring and describe the coming of the final redemption in Jerusalem. 

May it be speedily coming in our days, Now!

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  1. What a wonderful idea and a real display of Jewish pride. Kudos to Sharone Goodman for implementing this!

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