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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Story of Joseph Through Images: A Gallery

For the past number of weeks a group of women and I have been meeting to talk about understanding the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis through the use of images.

Each week we meet and read a few chapters (or even a few lines). We choose themes of the book and then either create or find images that helps us to understand those themes.

In class we have discussions of the different aspects of the story and what we find puzzling or intriguing and then participants share images.

Sharing images is an important part of the class and takes time. We listen to each other and seek to understand not only the topics involved with the Joseph story, but also each other.

Here are some of the images that have been shared. It has been a joy to work with these women. I hope to do a similar course on the Hagaddah beginning in late February. Let me know if you are interested. We meet on Zoom on Sunday mornings from 10:30-12:00. I would love to have you join the class. Email me if you might be interested.


Danila Szekely

Inspiration for this photo:

Joseph's coat of many colors, Genesis 37:3, 37:23, 37:32

The colored pencils speak to the myriad ways we color and shape a story - one we create or one we hear or text we read - and the many lenses and layers of perspectives and assumptions through which we choose to interpret and make meaning.

One of Joseph's Dreams, Genesis 37:6-7

"My sheaf stood upright and your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf."

The rich gold-brown color of the two-toned Magnolia leaf in the center and the way it stands out in this natural grouping of leaves on the branch spoke to me of Joseph and his brothers in one of his dreams, as well as later in the story, the powerful position Joseph would be appointed to in the royal household, and the wealth he was entrusted to manage


Fran Shulman

Fran is focusing in on this class to work on creating narratives in photos. She used a recent trip to her 95 year old mother to record her life at 95. Participants in the class are learning from Fran about beginnings, middles and endings in visual narratives. I am posting two images for now and hope to add more photos soon.

You can find more of Fran's photography at


Ellen Krueger

Ellen Krueger has experimented by the concept of mystery in the story of Joseph and this image depicts that sense of the unknown. One participant pointed out that the leaf is akin to the hidden goblet in the pack of Benjamin.

In this next set of images, Ellen has given thought to the group of the brothers and has used wood as her vehicle to describe them.

All the brothers.






Sheryl Ishai

Sheryl Ishai has embarked on an exploration of the Joseph story using stones from the Mediterranean Sea. Each of the images represents a specific aspect of the Joseph story.

A portrait of Joseph

Honoring the father.

The wife of Potiphar carries away Joseph's cloak.

Knowing the pain they had caused him, the brothers watched Jacob grieve for 22 years.

Yehudah promises his father that no harm will come to Benjamin.

Joseph asks his brothers to approach him.


Randi Stein

I was interested in the phrase in the Joseph story “his soul was bound up in the lad’s soul”. These photos focus on the family connection. The still life looks like an odd piece out, but in fact this is a photo of a painting I inherited, that managed to survive my family’s flight from Germany. But in addition, the content also speaks of connection, albeit a rather contrived one— fruit and wine and a knife— a "still life”— momentarily connected by the artist’s intentions. The portrait I painted reflects another kind of connection— the one this man made willingly and joyfully, joining his soul to the Jewish people by choice. The carrots of course, are twins— connected/bound (like several biblical characters) from conception.


Barbara Gold Marks

Barbara used this image to convey the idea of plenty versus famine.

Barbara used this image to represent dreams.

Barbara used this image to represent the drama in the Joseph story.

Barbara used this image to represent power.

Barbara used this image to show Joseph (in color, of course!) and his many brothers.


I have participated in this class, too! Most of all, so far I have been intrigued with the Joseph being a person who absorbs the emotions of others. I will always also be intrigued by the random people in Torah who advance the text, hence the man in the field.

Here are some of my images:

Joseph in his coat of many colors and dreams.

The man in the field who Joseph meets and sends him on his way.

The Pit.

Joseph as a vessel to be filled by the jealousy of his brothers, the favoritism of his father and the passion of Potiphar's wife.

Interpretation of dreams. Fragments of the past and the future.


Thanks for viewing this gallery. Do you have any images that fit themes in the Joseph story? Send them along!!! I'd love to see your interpretations.

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