Be the Change: A CANVAS Conversation with Ruth Messinger, Caron Tabb, and Jewish Arts Collaborative

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 2:00pm – 3:00pm EDT

How did a legendary Jewish activist influence a Jewish artist to launch a national art project rooted in the Jewish tradition of tzedakah? Learn the answer to that question and many more! Please join us for this revealing and inspiring CANVAS conversation with Ruth Messinger, Caron Tabb, and Jewish Arts Collaborative.

Be the Change is a 2022-2023 art and activism initiative inspired by the Jewish tenet of justice and drawing from the ritualistic Jewish tzedakah box. Taking place in Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and online, Be the Change will help viewers connect to issues of injustice and empower them to become agents of change.

Through the intersection of art and action, Be the Change aims to rally the community at large towards justice and to lower barriers to enable us all to be agents of change in tangible ways around real local issues.

Three cities.
18 pieces (chai = life) of public art by local emergent artists. 30+ community partnerships.
One big year of change. 

Project Roots:
Be the Change is inspired by two pieces in artist Caron Tabb’s 2021 show, Humanity is Not a Spectator Sport. When seeking to create a show that would allow all to engage with justice through the art, Caron connected with Ruth Messinger, Founding President of the American Jewish World Service.

Ruth’s dream? A giant tzedakah box outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring the phrase “BE THE CHANGE.” Thanks to Ruth's vision, inspiration, and partnership, Be the Change is the first national public art project led by JArts. 


Caron Tabb was born in apartheid South Africa, raised on a farm in Israel from the age of 8, and has lived in the U.S. for the last 20 years. After years of working in the nonprofit world, she turned her focus to art. These key biographical elements and her passion for social justice issues deeply impact her artistic practice. In addition to traditional painting and photography, she incorporates many found objects and unconventional materials into her work. Her conceptual mixed-media and installation pieces address issues of social inequality, racial justice, and feminism as seen through the lens of her deep Jewish identity. Caron has shown her work at the MFA, Boston, the Beacon Gallery, the Rukus Pop-Up gallery, and Hebrew College. Caron is a Rothko Chapel fellow and sits on the board of the Jewish Arts Collaborative. 

Ruth W. Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) from 1998 to July of 2016, is currently the organization’s inaugural Global Ambassador. In this role, Ruth is continuing her crucial work of engaging rabbis and interfaith leaders to speak out on behalf of oppressed and persecuted communities worldwide. A tireless advocate and social change visionary, Ruth mobilizes rabbis and faith-based communities throughout the U.S. to promote human rights. She previously sat on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and is currently a member of the World Bank’s Moral Imperative Working Group on Extreme Poverty.
Laura Conrad Mandel is Executive Director of the Jewish Arts Collaborative in Boston. Laura is an artist, social entrepreneur, and public art advocate. Before it merged with the Boston Jewish Music Festival to become JArts, Laura directed NOW—the young adult program of the New Center for Arts and Culture in Boston. Laura grew up in Newton, Mass., and after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in art and English, Laura worked at the Hillel JUC of Pittsburgh and Hadassah Southern California. She serves on the board of the Council of American Jewish Museums, the MASSCreative Advisory Council, and the JCRC Boston Council.
CANVAS is a Jewish arts and culture funding collaborative incubated at Jewish Funders Network, and Matters of the Art is a CANVAS/JFN funder group dedicated to exploring trends, opportunities, and gaps in the field of Jewish arts and culture.

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