Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah, 2011    Photo Credit for all images (except the studio shots): Philip Cohen.   

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah, 2011

Photo Credit for all images (except the studio shots): Philip Cohen.

Contemporary Judaica seder plate for the holiday TuBishvat constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans, 10k gold rivets, sterling silver rivets, aluminum rivets, brass screws, Plexiglas. 
This Seder plate was designed for the invitational exhibition titled.

Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art and Jewish Thought, The Dorothy Saxe Invitational at the  Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA.

Article about this show in The Daily Journal San Mateo Edition

Retail Price:  $42,000

In the photo below:
Plexiglas panels are placed on top of the seder plate. They were designed for functional use so that fruit or nuts will not be in contact with the tins. Exhibition of this Seder plate should be without the Plexiglas as it slightly obscures the details. 


Since 1988, the use of post-consumer recycled materials has been a core premise of my work following the concept of "tikkun olam" or repair the world. The form of this TuBishvat seder plate is based on an interpretation of the recycling symbol.

recycle symbol

This interpretation of the recycling symbol covered in metallic gold tin cans creates a platform for the three types of fruit used during the Tu Bishvat Seder service. (More images and information below.) 

DIMENSIONS: 6”H x 24”W x 20"D 

If you are interested in viewing the design, and fabrication of this Judaica TuBishvat seder plate, CLICK HERE to view an entire album on Flickr with step by step photos for this work in progress. 


In the photo above I am riveting the tins on the inside. The inside of each section matches the exterior. Look closely to see the oranges and pomegranates for Assiyah, symbolizing fruit where only the inside is eaten.

In the next photo below I am riveting layers of metallic tins on the outside of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Assiyah, Yetzirah, Beriyah.


All of the tins used to make this seder plate were from post consumer recycled tin cans. Below you can see the embossed lettering from the bottom of a tin can.


For Beriyah, a silhouette of figs and fig leaves includes images of apples, pears and grapes, fruits where all parts are eaten. 


Explanation of Beriyah from the Hillel Seder Service:
In the third realm, Creation, the tree has grown into a full being and is blooming. 

No protective shells are needed within or without. The fruit of the realm of Creation has no shell or pit, and may be eaten whole. This represents the realm of intellect. Fruits of Beriyah include: grapes, figs, apples, citrons, pears, quinces, and carob. 

Just as a fig tree, as long as someone examines it, one will find figs, so too with the words of Torah, as long as someone meditates on them, one will find new insights. (Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 54a-b) Since this is the realm of intellect, we will take some time to study Jewish texts about humanity's relationship to trees. 

There is a verse in the Bible that compares humans to trees: "When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city. As you will see, Biblical commentators disagree over how to read this verse."

For Assiyah, a pomegranate branch (shown below) symbolizes the fruit where only the inside is eaten.  Look closely to see that the leaves, fruit and branch are all cut from various tin cans. (I love the abstraction of the leaves, and branch.)


In the photo below, you can see the full pomegranate branch with leaves and fruit.

Explanation of Assiyah from Hillel TuBishVat Seder service:
The realm of assiya is the furthest from perfection. Symbolically, this realm requires the most protection, and therefore we eat fruits that have a shell on the outside – to protect them from the external elements. With this fruit, we have a rooted awareness of the tangible world around us, in both its natural and human dimensions. We concentrate on our proper place in that world.


For Yetzirah, (shown below) an olive branch represents fruits where only the outside is eaten. 


Explanation of Yetzirah from the Hillel Seder Service: 
We now turn toward inner, spiritual development. The fruit for this world has no outer shell but has an inner pit that we don't eat. 

The pit or seed is a means of regrowth. It symbolizes the earth's reawakening and with it we can cause a transformation of raw materials. Fruits with a pit or seed include olives, dates, cherries, plums, apricots, etc. 

I choose to use olives because olives grow right outside my house and it is a biblical fruit.

The center star is a symbol of Judaism subtly presented as a radiating light. You can see the center of this seder plate is a Jewish Star. (Shown below.)

1 Ceiling_STAR

The Jewish star is as much an illusion as reality. I love how the sloping sides reflect the star motif, and echo the form. If light is directed toward the center of the Seder plate it will reflect a Jewish Star on the ceiling (shown below).


Within the concept of tikkun olam and our observance of TuBishvat, we repair the world through our actions.  In the image below you can see the steel recycling symbol (on the right) peaking beneath the strip of metallic gold tins.