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Jeanette Kuvin Oren

Torah cover made by Kuvin Oren


Limmud 2013: The Art of Paper Cutting with Jeanette Kuvin Oren

by Rhonda J. Prepes, March 3, 2013


At the Limmud Festival on March 3, 2013 at the Asper Campus, sixteen eager participants gathered in the Art Room at Gray Academy to hear Jeanette Kuvin Oren talk about the art of paper cutting and take part in the craft.

Kuvin Oren has been a commissioned artist for the last 28 years. She made her first torah cover at age 13 for her Bat Mitzvah in Israel in 1973 and made her first ketuba (Jewish marriage contract) for her own wedding in 1984.

“The hardest ketuba to make was for my daughter who got married last year. I wanted it to be what she wanted. It was a lot of pressure,” said Kuvin Oren.

After viewing a slide show on Kuvin Oren’s many talents, she instructed the participants how to do paper cutting. She brought three templates on white paper for the participants to choose from: Shalom, a Jerusalem scene and a Passover image. I chose to do the Jerusalem scene which was deemed not to be the easiest one and not to be the hardest one. After choosing a template, the participants cautiously used an X-Acto knife to cut portions out of the template. We followed the preprinted diagram with the blade of the knife and punched out the shapes that we had completely cut around. When complete, the cut template was placed on a piece of colored paper. Even people who had no artistic ability whatsoever were able to participate and enjoy this workshop. Everyone was thrilled with their finished project.

Kuvin Oren’s own paper cutting projects would be much more intricate and ornate, would normally use a silk fabric background and could incorporate painting and/or lettering.

Kuvin Oren's roots are in calligraphy, painted illumination, and paper cutting. She has created many unique works of calligraphy and paper cutting from abstract and contemporary, to Persian, Spanish, or Italian in design. She has created personalized paper cut and painted family trees that are backed with hand-painted silk. She has made ketubot for hundreds of couples who were marrying and celebrating anniversaries.

Kuvin Oren is known for a variety of styles: from "traditional" with muted colors to contemporary with vibrant colors. She dyes her own silk fabrics to create fibre ritual art. She is known for incorporating Jewish history and a knowledge of ritual and tradition into her art. She creates individual pieces and "sets" of pieces for synagogues and individuals who commission her art.

Kuvin Oren, who is known internationally for her Judaic art, has been commissioned by more than 350 synagogues, schools and community centres across the U.S., Canada, South America, the Caribbean and Israel to create torah covers, chuppot (wedding canopies), ark curtains, murals, stained glass, mosaics and wall-hangings. She also makes simcha (Jewish celebration) chairs, challah covers, family trees and limited-edition prints.

Each piece of art is made specifically for the client from their specifications. She prides herself on being good at listening to the spiritual and decorative needs of a particular group and a particular setting.

Her designs are inspired by, among other things,  biblical scenes, Zionist themes, personal themes, holidays, Israel, architecture, nature, abstract, modern art, and the Holocaust. She embellishes her final products with quilting, lettering, fabric, beading, and anything she can think of to create impressive one of a kind works of art.

Kuven Oren, who  has worked with dozens of camps, day schools and synagogues as an artist-in-residence, lives in New haven Connecticut. She grew up in Florida and spent her childhood summers in Israel. Her husband, Dan Oren psychiatrist, author and genealogist hobbyist, also gave presentations at Limmud.

For more information on Kuvin Oren and her work, see


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