Menucha Page

Bridging Israeli secular-religious divides via art

In Israel, the divide between secular and religious Jews is one of the most notable fault lines shaping social and cultural landscapes. These two communities often have different values, modes of living, and even political agendas, leading to tensions and misunderstandings. However, art has emerged as a unifying force with the power to bridge these divides, fostering dialogue, understanding, and mutual respect.

The power of art as a unifier

Art transcends language and ideological barriers, offering a universal medium for expression and communication. In Israel, art has been increasingly recognized as a tool for social change, capable of addressing and mitigating the secular-religious divide. From visual arts and music to theater and literature, various artistic forms provide platforms for both communities to engage with each other in ways that are deeply personal yet widely accessible.

Collaborative art projects

One powerful example of art’s unifying potential is collaborative art projects that bring together secular and religious artists. Initiatives like these facilitate mutual understanding and cooperative creation, allowing participants to explore each other’s worlds through a shared artistic vision. Projects such as the Jerusalem Biennale often feature works that reflect both religious motifs and secular themes, creating a melting pot of ideas and imagery.

One notable project is the Art Kibbutz, an international community of Jewish artists, which hosts residencies and events focusing on Jewish themes. These events foster an inclusive atmosphere where artists discuss and celebrate their diverse backgrounds, contributing to a richer understanding of Jewish identity in its many forms.

Public art and community engagement

Public art installations and community-based projects offer another avenue for bridging the secular-religious divide. Street art, murals, and public performances in diverse neighborhoods can trigger conversations and shared experiences. For example, initiatives like the Musrara Mix Festival in Jerusalem bring together artists from various backgrounds to create works that engage the local community and reflect on social issues, including secular-religious tensions.

Furthermore, community art centers often run programs that include both secular and religious participants, using art as a means to promote dialogue. Workshops, collective art-making sessions, and public exhibitions create a neutral ground where individuals can come together, share their stories, and build mutual understanding.

Art education as a tool for understanding

Art education programs in schools and community centers also play a crucial role in bridging the divide. Integrating secular and religious students in art classes exposes young minds to different perspectives and cultural expressions from an early age. Programs like MoBY (Museums of Bat Yam) engage children and teenagers from both communities in creative projects, instilling values of tolerance and cooperation.

By highlighting the cultural and historical aspects of both secular and religious Jewish life, art education fosters an appreciation for diversity within the Jewish community. Such programs can serve to break down stereotypes and build a more cohesive society.

Artistic expression in media and literature

Finally, contemporary Israeli literature, film, and media offer powerful platforms for exploring and bridging the secular-religious divide. Novels, films, and documentaries often delve into the complexities of Jewish life, presenting nuanced portrayals of both secular and religious characters. Works such as Shtisel, a popular Israeli TV series, provide insight into the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community, making its lived experience more accessible to secular audiences.

Similarly, authors and filmmakers who navigate themes of faith, identity, and modernity act as cultural ambassadors, fostering empathy and understanding. These artistic narratives can challenge preconceived notions, humanizing all sides of the divide.


Art, in its myriad forms, has a unique ability to bridge the secular-religious Jewish divide in Israel. Through collaborative projects, public art, educational initiatives, and diverse media expressions, art fosters dialogue, breaks down barriers, and encourages mutual respect. As both a reflection and a catalyst for change, art continues to play a crucial role in uniting the diverse strands of Israeli society, revealing a shared humanity beneath the surface of differences.

About the Author
Menucha Page is a Jerusalem-based Jewish woman artist combining ancient themes of Torah Judaism and values with contemporary artistic techniques in painting, drawing, photography, woodwork, glasswork, and metalwork. Menucha Page renovated an abandoned historic preservation structure in Jerusalem that had been built by Jewish laborers a century-and-a-half before in the heart of the historic Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot near the city’s Mahaneh Yehuda Market which now serves as her home gallery. Visit her at, on Instagram or write her at
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