Pastor Also Proclaims with Paintbrush

Jake Rosen in front of “Hashem,” his three-panel painting on themes in the book of Isaiah. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Jake Rosen paints Old Testament themes, leads messianic community

By Linda Briggs-Harty
Contributing Writer
stellarsupport@att.net

Rosen was ordained as a pastor at Clayton Community Church in 1991. He is in charge of the Jewish ministry, music and the arts, and the office. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Visitors to the meeting hall at Clayton Community Church on the western edge of Brentwood can’t help but notice two arresting triptychs along the back wall. Painted in abstract impressionist style, the six panels, each four feet wide and at least six feet tall, weave a tale both personal and universal. They are based on the Book of Isaiah in the Bible.

The artist — the church’s pastor, Jake Rosen — aimed to honor his mother and father, who are survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and Russian conscription, within the framework of Old Testament theology.

Along with serving as one of three pastors at the nondenominational church at 2501 Rockford Avenue off Litzsinger Road in Rock Hill, Rosen heads a messianic community, Beit Chesed, that meets there on Friday nights.

Called Hashem (in Hebrew, “the name”) and Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami (“comfort, comfort my people”), the triptychs earned Rosen lauds at local and national religious conferences. Both were displayed last year at Missouri Baptist University and at a New York City venue used by Chosen Ministries, a messianic Jewish outreach.

The triptychs also are highlighted in a YouTube video, “The Vision of Isaiah,” narrated by Andrew Bartelt, a professor at Covenant Theological Seminary in West County.

In the video, Bartelt said of Rosen’s art, “There’s a vividness and energy to this work.”

“As I learned about Isaiah’s poetic structures, I grew excited to put the text in picture form,” said Rosen, a graduate of Washington University’s School of Art. His triptychs are oil-based, as are most of his works.

The panels depict strong sentiment, with haunting images that speak to Rosen but also touch Christians and others, the artist said.

All three panels of Rosen’s “Hashem.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Mother survives Auschwitz

In the third panel of Hashem, Rosen painted a passport photo of his mother that was taken after she was released from Auschwitz in 1945. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

In Hashem, the scene in the left panel centers on the Assyrian assault on Judah 800 years B.C. A scene on the right captures a passport photo granted to Rosen’s mother, Bronia, after being released in 1945 from the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Bronia eventually emigrated to America with husband Abe. The pair had four children, one being Jake, who converted to Christianity at age 21.

The YouTube video about the triptychs includes footage from Bronia’s oral testimony given to the Shoah Foundation, sponsored by film director Steven Spielberg. She was 11 when Nazis sent her family to Auschwitz, after they spent months in the ghetto set up for Jews in her birthplace, Lodz, Poland. The strong girl proved inspirational to fellow camp mates and was commended by Holocaust survivors for helping them get through the ordeal, she wrote at one point.

During the war, Bronia’s future husband Abe was sent to Siberia and forced to fight as a Russian soldier.

The center panel of Hashem highlights a main theme in Isaiah: God and man woven together. In Hebrew and English, the words “wonderful counselor,” “mighty God,” “everlasting father” and “prince of peace” speak of the coming Messiah, Rosen said.

The triptych Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami embodies Isaiah’s essentially upbeat message. Based on the prophet’s later books, the three panels appear light and full of blessing, according to Rosen. The painter wrestles with Isaiah’s themes of darkness and gloom, shown in the middle panel of Holocaust victims. But he provides release from that too — the right panel depicts his parents’ wedding jubilee.

They lived to further the faith family, a joyful outcome, Rosen said.

Raised in St. Louis

Rosen has been drawing, illustrating and painting since he was a child growing up in University City. As a young adult, he moved to New York and ran with the wrong crowd, he said. Turning his life around, he became involved back home in what was to become the Jews for Jesus movement, where he met wife Jeanne.

Jake and Jeanne attended Fuller Theological Seminary in California when their two children were small. They both completed their master’s degrees in Jewish studies from Covenant Theological Seminary here in the late 1980s. She works at the St. Louis Art Museum and teaches part time at Lindenwood University.

Rosen has plans for more religious art. He said he will continue including narrative elements, because that’s what brings the Bible alive for him and others.

While he relishes being a pastor, he admits he’s ever the artist too. “In truth, I’m most comfortable with paintbrush in hand.”

Rosen takes a phone call in his small upstairs painting studio at the church. He spends most of his time as a pastor and paints when he can. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Links

Watch a YouTube video about Rosen’s triptychs at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzvskaP81bk&f eature=youtu.be.

More information about the triptychs and his parents’ history is at:
www.jewishpainter.blogspot.com.

Rosen used his brother as a model for a portrait of King Ahaz. (Photo by Steve Bowman)
At the corner of Rockford Ave. and Golden Gate Road, Clayton Community Church is just outside the western edge of Brentwood, in Rock Hill. The pastors are Wayne Carson, Charlie Bethel and Jake Rosen. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

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