art made by children expressing identity, learning to be creative, artist practices





(in Russian) since 2012

Museum Education Series designed to advance children’s cognitive development, through exploration of art materials and techniques used by the artists to stimulate imagination, help children construct meanings about the world, develop a global perspective and promote art appreciation. Children study from the original works of art and create their own work right in the gallery of world’s most famous museum! 

group 1 (3.5-5 year old) 12-1:00pm 

group 2 (6-9 year old): 2 – 3 p.m 


Fee: $400 for all 10 tours or $45 per class (2 classes minimum)

Dates: Sept.17, Oct.15, Nov.12, Dec.10, Jan.21, Feb.11, March 11, April 15, May 13, June 10

How does Zshuk Museum Education Series stand out?

  • Zshuk tours are created with an idea of promoting children’s cognitive development, through exploration of art materials and techniques used by the artists to stimulate imagination, help children construct meanings about the world, build upon experiences to express a personal vision; develop a global perspective and recognize the power of art to communicate beliefs and values.
  • all Zshuk tours are led by a professional artist and pedagog .
  • each tour focuses on a particular work of art, artist or culture with an idea to give children a very specific in depth experience
  • children use professional art materials.
  • prior to each trip a teaching artist conducts thorough research in order to build clear and age appropriate connections and develop a immersive educational experience for the children.
  • each tour children listen to a story and look at picture books that unveil the life of artists, cultural background or mythology of the work they will view.
  • all parents receive personal e-mail reminders about the tours and the information about what happened during the previous tour.
  • at the end of the year each student receives a special portfolio containing their work, and a special Certificate of Connoisseurship.
  • the artist/educator maintains appropriate standards for the children’s behavior using non-punitive method that teaches self-discipline while supporting children’s self-esteem, promotes mutual respect and models problem solving skills and gears the program to the needs of the individual child with concern for the child’s interests, special needs, special talents and individual style and pace of learning.

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NEW Fall Art Program







New and exciting program that emphasizes Jewish learning, art, and pedagogy in a fun environment for children and parents. Our curriculum has connections to beautiful Jewish texts, stories, multidisciplinary creating, and concepts and teaches children to think deeply, flexibly, and imaginatively. As a result children are able to construct a very personal connection to Judaism, express themselves and to become self-reliant, creative, and independent thinkers. At the end of the semester everyone will be able to participate in a spectacular Theatrical Performance Show for the entire family!

REGISTER for Fall semester:

Mark’s JCH of Bensonhurst

JCC in Manhattan

If you have any questions, please contact me at

Please see our last year’s projects 

The Besht’s Magical Journey

The Besht’s Magical Journey

The Besht’s Magical Journey


Zshuk Art Initiative, announces the First Interactive Show
for the entire family in Russian,


Sunday May 29, 4pm


Shorefront Y, 3300 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11235

To be a part of the interactive circle please register

Past shows: Kings Bay Y, May 15, 1pm, May 8th, 11am, JCH of Besonhurst
April 17, 11am, JCC of Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023

pictures from the show on May 15

pictures from the show on May 8th






“Играют Все!” an article from The “Reporter” Newspaper. click to read.


“The Besht’s Magical Journey” is an educational and entertaining show for the entire family. This Russian language experimental theater performance depicts the adventures– as well as the good deeds — of the 17th century Jewish mystical rabbi, the Baal Shem Tov (“The BESHT”), during the Turkish occupation of Ukraine. Created and produced by Zshuk Art Initiative in under 30 days, it is scheduled to be performed in five Jewish Community Centers around the New York area.

Zshuk artists and educators have adopted this story from the legendary book “Jewish Folk Tales”, written by Efim Rayze and published posthumously in 1999 after the author’s imprisonment by the Soviets. Zhuk artists and educators, Zhenay Plechkina and Misha Sklar, will direct a cast that includes Yelena Shmulenson (“A Serious Man, “Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish”), and Genadiy Vysotsky (San Francisco Lyrical Opera). Michael Evans (whose past collaborations include Evan Parker, Alexander Hacke Einsturzende Neubauten), is the show’s composer and musical director.

Participant space is limited (please RSVP). Preference is given to families with children. If you would like to be a part of interactive circle during the show please write to

Yelena Shmulenson emigrated to the U.S. from the Ukraine in 1993. Her TV and film credits include the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man, Robert DeNiro’s The Good Shepherd, Life on Mars (ABC), American Experience: Fire At The Triangle (PBS), and Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish. Stage: 4 seasons Off-Broadway with the Folksbiene, 2 seasons at the Ellis Island Theatre, Enemies: A Love Story in Russian, Frank (‘Klezmatics’) London’s musical of A Night In the Old Marketplace, the tours of Lady of Copper: The Statue of Liberty Musical and The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum, etc.  She has also recorded several audio books, winning the Earphones Award for her recordings of Train to Trieste and Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl and Rosa. She can be heard in the radio drama The Witches of Lublin, currently playing on various radio stations across the country. She is fluent in four languages.


Michael Evans – is an improvising drummer/percussionist/ thereminist/composer whose work investigates and embraces the collision of sound and theatrics. As well as being a drum set player, his work with unusual sound sources includes found objects, homemade instruments, the theremin and various digital and homemade analog electronics.  He has worked with a wide variety of artists including Samm Bennett, Jac Berrocal, EasSide Percussion, Fast Forward(Gobo), God is my Co-Pilot,  Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten), Susan Hefner, Skip LaPlante’s Music for Homemade Instruments, Karen Mantler’s Pet  Project, Sean G. Meehan, Gordon Monahan, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, William Parker, LaDonna Smith, Toronto Dance Theatre and Peter Zummo.

Genady Vysotskywas born in Odessa, Ukraine. Gennady graduated from the Odessa School of Music. He became interested in acting at an early age, and began to explore that interest by participating in numerous musical theater performances, as well as appearing in several major motion pictures. After emigrating to the United States, Gennady graduated from the University of California at Davis, earning a double degree in Economics and Mathematics. At the same time Gennady continued his musical education. In the last few years Gennady has participated in the productions of the Magic Flute and Macbeth in the San Francisco Lyric Opera. Gennady has recently moved to New York to further pursue his musical career.

Anton Rayn - Originally studied all aspects of Puppet Theater and Performance in Kiev, Ukraine, and continued his education in the US, graduating from Brandeis University. He spent the better part of his childhood as a child performer and continues to be actively involved in children’s theater as an adult (with and without puppets): Les Misérables (JCHS), You Can’t Take It With You (JCHS), Joe and Mary’s Irish/Italian Wedding (NY Dinner Theater), Sleeping Beauty (Growing Stage), New York Renaissance Faire.


Baal Shem Tov or Besht - Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer (רבי ישראל בן אליעזר August 27, 1698 (18 Elul) – May 22, 1760), was a Jewish mystical rabbi. He is considered to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism . The Besht was born to Eliezer and Sara in Okopy (Ukrainian: Окопи) a small village that over the centuries has been part of Poland, Russia, and is now part of Ukraine, (located in the Borschiv Raion (district) of the Ternopil Oblast).  Better known to many religious Jews as “the holy Baal Shem”, or most commonly, the Baal Shem Tov (בעל שם טוב). The title Baal Shem Tov is usually translated into English as “Master of the Good Name”. The name Besht (בעש”ט) — the acronym from the words comprising that name, bet ayin shin tes—is typically used in print rather than speech. The little biographical information that is known about Besht is so interwoven with legends of miracles that in many cases it is hard to arrive at the historical facts. From the numerous legends connected with his birth it appears that his parents were poor, upright, and pious. When he was orphaned, his community cared for him. At school, he distinguished himself only by his frequent disappearances, being always found in the lonely woods surrounding the place, rapturously enjoying the beauties of nature. Chapin and Weinstock contend that the Besht was essentially the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Eighteenth century Podolia was an ideal place to foster a sea-change in Jewish thinking. A Turkish occupation of Podolia occurred within the Besht’s lifetime. Once the Polish Magnates regained control from the Turks, Podolia essentially went through an economic boom. The Magnates were benevolent to the economic benefits the Jews provided and encouraged Jewish resettlement to help protect the frontier from future invasions. Thus, the Jewish community itself was essentially starting over. Within this context, the Jews of Podolia were open to new ideas. The Besht’s refreshing new approaches to Judaism were welcome, expanding with little resistance in a community hungry for change.

Efim Rayze -  collected “Jewish Folk Tales” from FSU. This collection is vibrant and reach with moral and funny stories and mystical tales. The book published posthumously in 1999.  These stories represent a slice of Jewish history and identity that has long been neglected and even forbidden in the Former Soviet Union.


Leon Theremin - Lev Sergeyevich Termen, Russian: Лев Сергеевич Термен) (27 August 1896, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire) was a Russian and Soviet inventor. He is most famous for his invention of the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments. He is also the inventor of interlace, a technique of improving the picture quality of a video signal, widely used in video and television technology. His invention of “The Thing”, an espionage tool, is considered a predecessor of RFID technology.



This program has been created by Zshuk Art Initiative, sponsored by CWW project of COJECO, funded by the UJA Federation of New York and Genesis Philanthropy Group and Joshua Venture Group



Yemin Orde Mural Painting

Yemin Orde Mural Painting

Zshuk Art Initiative along with Blueprint(CWW COJECO) had volunteered to create a mural for the Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel.  Through creative process and discussion we had arrived at the idea of using art as a healing experience(Tikun Olam) and creating a mural using the shapes of rocks and remains from recent fire that swept through Carmel mountains and hit the village in December 2010. Each artist had created their own “rock” shape to construct an abstract painting.

Artists had worked in collaboration with Russian-speaking teens at the village.

Special thanks to Anna Vainer for the amazing opportunity and one of a kind experience of Israel.

more images here

Purim Mask Making Project

Purim Mask Making Project

Russian Shabbat Club

We had created masks using pre-cut shapes and collage techniques

Shorefront Y

Lesson 1:

Collage, Drawing with scissors


Lesson 2:

3-D Collage

What we did:

Lesson 3:

What we did:

  • We looked at  Syrian sculpture and used it as reference
  • used recycled materials to create a mask sculpture
  • used paper mache technique to cover the surface of the mask sculpture

Lesson 4:

What we did:

  • We used primary colors to create secondary and tertiary colors
  • used various marks to create features of the mask


Gesher Jewish Educators Workshop


studio 1.5

studio 1.5

John Coplans

(American, b. 1944)


When John Coplans began photographing his aging body after he turned 60, he embarked on a documentation of age that is alternately humorous, reflective, and disquieting in the closeness of its observation. Seeing himself as an actor, Coplans examines various body parts closely, often quoting art historical postures with his sagging figure. Self-Portrait, Three Times is exemplary of his scrutinization of idealized expectations of the body and the self.

Born in London in 1920, John Coplans was educated in South Africa and England. After immigrating to the United States in 1960, he began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. Coplans was the founding editor of Artforum magazine. Coplans worked as the senior curator of the Pasadena Art Museum from 1967 to 1970 and as the director of the Akron Art Museum in 1978. He has published numerous articles of art criticism, and his books include Weegee: Tater und Opfer (1978), Ellsworth Kelly (1973), Roy Lichtenstein (1972), Andy Warhol (1970), Serial Imagery (1968), and Cezanne Watercolors (1967). Coplan’s extremely close-up nude self-portraits have been exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide. He received the Frank Jewitt Mather Award of the College Art Association for services to art criticism in 1974; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships in 1969 and 1985; and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1975, 1980, 1986, and 1992.

Solomon’s Chair at Hannah Senesh Community School

Solomon’s Chair at Hannah Senesh Community School

Life streaming from the event

Video streaming by Ustream

February 6

1-4 pm

Interactive Installation accompanied by printmaking workshops.

previous event at JCC in Manhattan

Hannah Senesh Community Day School


Exploration in Collage and 3D Construction

Exploration in Collage and 3D Construction

Explorations in Collage and 3-D Construction is a sequence of 5 lessons in sculpture and construction and is a part of a larger Family Program Initiative titled Art Explorations.

This unit introduces young learners to concepts of 3 dimensionality. The whole sequence is developed based on the artistic uses of 3-dimensional forms, experimentation, and encourages students to come up with innovative uses in constructing their own structures. Each lesson is self contained and reinforces prior knowledge as well as points out new directions for exploration. Students learn by making, observing and listening to each other as well as reflecting on the art made by famous artists. The goal of the sequence is not just to teach about art but to help students develop important habits of mind such as :

  • Persisting
  • Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
  • Managing Impulsivity
  • Gathering Data Through all Senses
  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy
  • Creating, imagining and Innovation
  • Thinking Flexibly
  • Responding with Wonderment and Awe
  • Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition)
  • Taking Responsible Risks
  • Striving for Accuracy
  • Finding Humor
  • Questioning and Posing Problems
  • Thinking Interdependently
  • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
  • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning

We find that kids love to build and this particular class develops fine motor skills as well as spacial thinking.
I personally had not had many opportunities when I was little to explore sculpture, construction because in FSU these were not the most popular mediums that had been taught to kids. Even when I had gone to art school I still did not have appropriate sculpture experiences. In my adult life, while in Pratt Institute I had problems understanding important and original concepts in Sculpture.

Learning about 3-d concepts teaches children that the world is not flat and gives them a unique perspective on to things around them which building toys don’t.  Sculpture can be suspended in space, balance on a single point, pile up on the side.  It develops imagination in a special way.

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studio 1.4

studio 1.4

February 6

Alter Ego


Leading up to the celebration of Purim we find the following text:


…People are invited to relinquish normal modes of behavior for one day, embracing behavior otherwise viewed with suspicion. Controlled and institutionalized chaos affirms the greater structure of Jewish custom and law by forming an outlet for a healthy questioning and challenge from within. At the same time, consequences of losing control are further balanced by traditions of giving extra tzedakah(charity) and special gifts to friends and neighbors (mishloch manot) on Purim. Even in its antinomianism (breaking the rules), the tradition has one eye focused on communal balance.

It is taught that in messianic times, only the festival of Purim will continue to be celebrated. Despite efforts to untangle its rich weave of paradoxes, no simple analysis suffices to explain this most unusual and dynamic of the Jewish holidays.

Guest artist

Erika Devries

What we will do:

Using props, sets, makeup and clothing create an image of your alter ego or a false identity. It can be someone you imagine yourself being or your anti pod or an opposite. We will created animated GIF image.

click on image to see animation

Important Habits of mind:

  • Creating, imagining and Innovation
  • Thinking Flexibly
  • Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition)
  • Taking Responsible Risks
  • Striving for Accuracy
  • Finding Humor
  • Questioning and Posing Problems
  • Thinking Interdependently
  • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations