Paper Midrash
Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik have a powerful one-two punch,
bringing together contemporary art, pop culture, and scholarship
in workshops and residencies customized for your community.

To find out how you can bring them to your community, email

  Who We Are What We Do Where We've Been What People Say  

Husband and wife “dynamic duo” Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik spend a lot of their time talking about Judaism, comic books, and art — and would love to come share their world with your community. They have a powerful one-two punch, bringing deep Jewish scholarship together with a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional art of papercutting, sharing insights, telling stories, and providing your community with the opportunity and tools to make visual biblical commentary — what they call “paper midrash.”

Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik cuts up comic books and reassembles them into papercuts that explore the stories of the Jewish people, connecting popular culture with sacred texts. He has shown his papercuts in galleries across the United States, and his work is in the hands of collectors around the world. Isaac was the artist-in-residence at the 2013 URJ Biennial, has written for the CCAR Journal, and maintains an annual summer residency at URJ Camp Newman. See more of his work at

Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik adapts traditional Jewish concepts to a modern Reform context, and brings that synergy to students of all ages. She is an engaging teacher of Torah, bringing text to life with her unique, modern perspective. Shawna received a Master of Hebrew Letters in 1998 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, was ordained in 2002 as a member of HUC-JIR’s first Los Angeles class, and serves on the faculty of URJ Camp Newman every summer. Follow her blog at

  Who We Are What We Do Where We've Been What People Say  

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna can join your community for a few hours or a few days, leading you in creating papercut artwork, learning about heroes in the bible and contemporary pop culture, and worshipping with dynamic new service elements.

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna lead various papercutting workshops; they bring all the materials, leading workshop participants in creating individual or group artwork. Participants will explore a text or theme and create their own papercut using knives and cut-up comic books. Multiple themes available, customizable for groups based on age and ability. Best suited for teens and older.

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna present engaging dialogues and discussions on various topics, accompanied by slides featuring Jewish texts and Isaac’s art. Topics include:

Intro to Midrash: Jewish Fan Fiction
• Judaism and Art: History, Interpretation, Practice
• Women of Valor and Other Super Heroes
• Damaged Heroes: Midrash and Pop Culture Mythology
• Under the Chuppah with Superman and Lois Lane
• Paper Tefillah: Prayer and Art
• Making Midrash: Interpretation and Artistic Process
• A History of Jews and Comic Books
• The Twelve Tribes: An Exploration of Peoplehood

Isaac and Rabbi Shawna have created a unique "visual tefillah" in partnership with CCAR which incorporates Isaac's series of tefillah papercuts; designed for overhead projection. They also deliver visual sermons and "live art" drash. They can work with your clergy to customize the service.

  Who We Are What We Do Where We've Been What People Say  

URJ Camp Newman – Santa Rosa, CA (annual summer residency since 2007)

Kehillat Ma'Arav (July 2016)

Temple Ahavat Shalom – Northridge, CA (December 2016)

Limmud UK (December 2016)

Temple Beth Israel – Fresno, CA (March 2017)

Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County – CA (September 2017)

Congregation B'nai Israel – Sacramento, CA (December 2017)

Peninsula Temple Sholom – Burlingame, CA (January 2018)

Temple Emanu-El – San Jose, CA (February 2018)

  Who We Are What We Do Where We've Been What People Say  

“There is an art to the Judaic experiences we design for camp and an art to being able to empower the participants to create a beautiful moment of their own. Shawna and Isaac captured the perfect blend of both creating meaningful Jewish moments and bringing out the artist in each participant. It is so satisfying to watch people who do not believe they are capable of producing art surprise themselves with the piece they create and offer beautiful Midrash through the work of their hands. Our Shabbaton participants thoroughly enjoyed learning and creating with the depth and humor that Shawna and Isaac offer.”

– Rabbi Rick Winer (Temple Beth Israel – Fresno, CA)

“Thank you for leading and teaching our congregation. People are still talking about how great the weekend was and how much they enjoyed the paper midrash project.”

– Rabbi Molly Plotnik (Peninsula Temple Sholom – Burlingame, CA)

“Thank you for sharing your incredible art and insights with our Temple community. I loved seeing how you wove our Jewish tradition into the art you helped us create! Thank you for spending a Shabbat with us at our Shabbaton. You rock!”

– Rabbi Denise L. Eger, D.D. (Congregation Kol Ami – West Hollywood, CA)

“...a meaningful and enriching experience... Your teachings were both interesting and inspiring, and the opportunity to create art was fabulous.”

– Rabbi Mona Alfi (Congregation B'nai Israel – Sacramento, CA)

“It was so wonderful working with you both and everything came together so beautifully!”

– Anne Friedman (Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County)

“The papercut midrash event was all our hopes and intentions x10! The well-prepared presentation, knowledge, humor and inspiration yielded five framed pieces of art made by our congregants that are proudly displayed on our building entrance wall. A great success!”

– Cantor Samuel Cohen (Kehillat Ma’arav – Santa Monica, CA)
To find out how you can bring Isaac and Rabbi Shawna to your community,
email them at

© Isaac and Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik