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A unique artistic partnership highlighting the commonalities between the Jewish and First Nations peoples

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (May 3, 2024, Victoria, British Columbia)

In a spirit of friendship and reconciliation, an acclaimed First Nations artist and a well-known community rabbi have collaborated on a compelling work of art. The piece, called Magen, is a strong testament to the connections they share in their respective ways of life. 
Created by Vancouver Island painter/printmaker Virgil Sampson in collaboration with Rabbi Harry Brechner, who leads Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria, B.C., Magen—Hebrew for “protection”—combines Jewish and Coast Salish iconography to powerful effect. 
The print depicts an Orca whale contained within a sea blue Hamsa. In Jewish tradition, a Hamsa is an amulet that safeguards against the evil eye, while Orcas are symbols of compassion and protection to the Coast Salish people. The concept for the work arose from dialogue between the two creators, First Nations elders, and other rabbis. Protection emerged as a theme because it reflects the desire to preserve and respect the touchpoints and signposts that are foundational to all people and to all communities. 
Congregation Emanu-El is selling a limited-edition run of 200 Magen prints for $200 as a fundraiser for their heritage synagogue. The original synagogue, completed in 1863, remains a dynamic hub of the city’s active and engaged Jewish community. Each 20-inch x 20-inch serigraph silkscreen print of Magen is on fine 100 percent cotton rag paper. Purchasers will receive a tax receipt of $100 per print.
“[Artwork] can help bridge a gap between our culture and other cultures to bring a better understanding,” Sampson has said about his previous artwork. “I’ve always believed that when you understand, you take away fear.”

For more information, please contact: Susan Holtz, Executive Director:


Virgil Sampson (L) and Rabbi Harry Brechner (R)

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