Welcome to:


Brenda Susan Kaldenbach-Holtz

Binah Scribal Arts





Dutch language version? click Nederlands.

For many centuries, Jewish artists have made use of calligraphy and ornament to transform and transfigure the shape of Hebrew letters. I am inspired by this when I create works on paper that marry Hebrew text with Jewish symbolic images.
My speciality is Jewish illuminated calligraphy, from brachot (blessings) for various circumstances, bar- or bat-mitzvah gifts, and kettubahs (Jewish marriage certificates). My works are originals on rag paper with ink, gouache and pastel pencil.

Jewish art
In attempting to create 'Jewish art', the Jewish artist is faced by a dilemma. Jewish tradition may frown upon making graven images which can be worshipped, but has no objection to beauty. The concept of 'hiddur mitzvah' suggests that whenever a joyous commandment requires a physical object for its performance, that that object be as esthetically pleasing as possible. ('Make a beautiful sukkah in His honor, a beautiful lulav...')
There are various sources for meaningful texts suitable for the many ceremonies which celebrate the life cycle. Blessings from the prayer book are suitable for everything from the birth of a new baby to finishing graduate school. The priestly blessing need not only be spoken, but can also be written to remind someone that they be blessed with peace. The seven blessings from the marriage service form a fitting gift for a couple, be they just married, or celebrating 50 years together. Quotations from Torah, and from Song of Songs also serve as inspiration.
When I write a ketubah, I am doubly blessed, for I also take part in helping 'the bride to rejoice with the bridegroom'. Traditional floral and animal borders enliven the text with its 'Ani ledodi v'dodi li' ('My beloved is mine and I am his' - Song of Songs 6.3).

Born in New York City, I studied sculpture at the High School of Art and Design and art at New York University. I was active as a jewelry designer until my move to the Netherlands.
Since graduating from the Rietveld Academy, I have been active as a graphic designer and illustrator within the Jewish community in Amsterdam.

Exhibitions include a a solo exhibition in the LJG Amsterdam in 1990, a group exhibition at the shul in Delft in 1998, and for B'nei Brith including their Art Gala in 2008. A cup created for Ma'ayan's 'Miriam's Cup' exhibition in New York City in the spring of 1997 was the first three-dimensional piece I have done in many years. The cup combined calligraphy with a three dimensional plexiglass object which could hold water.

I teach Hebrew calligraphy as workshops (Limmoed 2008), group lessons (2003, 2006, Crescas 2007) and private lessons for small groups and individuals. I am also available for demonstrations (Internationale Kalligrafie Manifestatie 2005, 2008) and lectures. For further information, please email me at kalden@xs4all.nl

Cynthia Garinther from Montreal, Quebec, Canada put together a Calligraphy Compilation Webpage of over 600 related sites by topics & categories. See http://www.cynscribe.com

Below are two works by Brenda Kaldenbach. All pieces are done on rag paper with pen and ink and pastel pencils in full-color.

For other work click Kettubot (marriage certificates) and Lifecycles (works celebrating the high points in life).

Grapes, 1984.


The hebrew letter shin

Matzah (Ma Nishtanah)








For other work click Kettubot (marriage certificates) and Lifecycles (works celebrating the high points in life).

All works are copyright by Brenda Kaldenbach

Would you like to email me? Kalden@xs4all.nl

Last update February 1, 2008.