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  • ecological sculpture

  • performance installation

  • ancestral research


The Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

The central question to this work is "How do we reinvigorate Jewish traditions of mourning to honor ecological losses and build collective ritual around the climate crisis?" 

In a time of ecological devastation when so much of the natural world is suffering, this project applies the Ashkenazi practice of grave-measuring to ecological relatives in peril. Grave-measuring or feldmestn was a practice carried out by Eastern European women known as feldmesterin (grave measurers). The practice of grave-measuring would traditionally be performed during the month of Elul, when the veil

between the worlds of the living and the dead was thought to be thinning. Feldmesterin would measure the graves of their ancestors with cotton thread while reciting Yiddish prayers known as tkhines. These spontaneous prayers were reserved for household or domestic use, and did not need the participation of a rabbi. The thread would then become the wick for hand-dipped neshome likht (soul candles) that would burn in memory of the ancestors on Yom Kippur.

This project has had two iterations thus far; one that measured a dying cottonwood tree along the banks of the Rio Grande in Santa Fe, New Mexico and one commissioned for the Jewish Museum of Maryland's exhibition MATERIAL/INHERITANCE that measured a portion of the Chesapeake Bay. 

The process of grave-measuring for an ecological relative includes researching what plants, animals, or bodies of water are endangered in the place the work will be shown, choosing an ecological relative to measure, and taking a field visit to perform a measuring practice with cotton thread. I document the process of measuring and hand-dipping the candles to accompany an installation of the finished soul

candles. A community ritual event is held when the candles are burned where people can write and offer their own tkhines.

This project is supported by the work of many Jewish educators, artists, and facilitators including Dori Midnight, Elana June Margolis, Noam Lerman, and Rosza Daniel Lang/Levitsky who worked with me on Yiddish translations and pronunciation.

neshome likht for ecological relatives (video) 

Documentation of the grave-measuring process offered at Chesapeake Bay and the creation of soul candles. 

Direction & Editing: Tyler Rai

Filmed by: Jesse LeMon & Tyler Rai

Music: "Mussel Memory" by Nils Frahm

a tkhine for the waters

אַ תּחינה פֿאַר די װאַסערן

לאָז אונדז סובֿל זײַן

מיר בעטן

גיב אונדז געדולד


לאָז אונדז מרחם זײַן

מיר בעטן

גיב אונדז גנאָד


הילף אונדז געדענקן

די צוזאַמענבונדן װאָס מיר טראָגן 

מיט אַלע װאַסערן פֿון אונדזער װעלט

נעכטן און הײַנט און מאָרגן

a tkhine far di vasern


loz undz soyvl zayn

    mir betn

        gib undz geduld


loz undz merakhem zayn

    mir betn

        gib undz gnod


hilf undz gedenkn 

    di tsuzamenbundn vos mir trogn

mit ale vasern fun undzer velt

    nekhtn un haynt un morgn 

a tkhine for the waters


let us be patient

            we ask/plead

                      give us patience / be patient with us

let us show mercy

            we ask/plead

                         give us grace/mercy / be merciful to us


help us remember

             the connections we carry

with all the waters of our world

              yesterday and today and tomorrow

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