Siona Benjamin is alone again. Surrounded by other artists who, like her, have roots in South Asia, the Bombay native stands apart.
Her paintings (which are reminiscent of Indian miniatures) clearly reflect the visual culture of her homeland. But a closer look reveals a distinctive iconography of Hebrew words, menorahs and Sabbath flames drawn from Benjamin's Jewish heritage.
"I believe in using the specifics to get to the general," Benjamin said during a recent interview at her tidy home and studio in Montclair, N.J.
In the week since gay-friendly Conservative rabbis organized themselves, for the first time, into a public group (called Keshet Rabbis) their numbers have nearly doubled.
Last week, 75 members of the movement's Rabbinical Assembly signed up to offer counseling and consultation to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Conservative Jews. This week the number stands at 137, just under 10 percent of the RA's 1,500 members.