By Elazar Krausz
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, all of our lives seem to have been put on hold. Our daily routines have been moved indoors and online, with classes and social events taking place over Zoom. For many of us, as the days since we last ventured outside stretch on, we start to feel stuck, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Last fall, when Rocky Pincus, my co-editor in chief, and I decided to revamp YU’s fine arts journal and move it online, re-launching as Yeshiva University Journal of the Arts, we did so because we felt that our lives and our communities had a desperate need for more art. As our lives seem to move at an ever-increasing pace, the arts allow us to take a step back, slow down, and appreciate the world we live in.
With fear and anxiety mounting over the coronavirus, we saw an opportunity for the arts to play another role. When someone is feeling stuck, what better cure is there than creative self-expression? And when all of us, spread throughout the country and the world, are feeling stuck at once, what better way to come together than through the arts?
On March 28, YUJA launched a new initiative in response to the coronavirus. We called it “STUCK,” and dubbed it a “collective arts diary.” We envisioned it as a way for all of us to come together and document our collective experiences dealing with the pandemic through the arts. It exists as a standalone page on our website, and is updated almost daily with new submissions of fine art, photography, poetry, creative writing, and more, all centered around the theme of feeling “stuck,” interpreted in whatever way a student wishes.
At a time when we are all physically distanced, it was very important to us that this project serve as a unifying force. For that reason, we decided to open submissions to college students at any university. Though so far submissions have mainly come from YU students, we have published submissions from students at Nova Southeastern University, Missouri State University, and the University of British Columbia. We hope that list will grow longer as people share the project with their friends around the world.
In many ways, the decision to accept submissions from outside of YU was inspired by the global unity we’ve seen forming online in the wake of campus closures. With the sudden popularity of Facebook groups like Zoom University Hillel, a group with over 13,000 Jewish college students from universities across the world, we realized that despite our social distancing, we are all less divided by geographical difference than ever. The coronavirus is truly an experience that is felt globally, and we want “STUCK” to be a project that can unite us globally as well.
If you are an artist or a writer, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on this ever-evolving situation and create something to submit to the project. If you’ve never made art or attempted creative writing before, take a look at the site for some inspiration and try something new. It can truly be a cathartic experience in this uncertain time. And if you just want to look, that’s okay too. There’s surely going to be something you can connect with.
Elazar Krausz is a co-editor in chief of the Yeshiva University Journal of the Arts. You can find all of the student submissions for “STUCK” and submit your own at yeshivaarts.com/stuck.