Dear Friends and Visitors to the site,,,,,,,,While the gallery exhibition of "A Father's Kaddish" ended on October 8, 2015, the online presentation will remain indefinitely. There will be periodic updates as "A Father's Kaddish" and the journey of the Kaddish Chawan continues to live on ,,,,,,

Please scroll to the bottom of the page as updates to the site will appear there in the order in which they emerge and come to be. Thank you so much for visiting,,,,,




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Kaddish Chawan #365/365

See below to read the poster titled "A Legacy"


Glazing my Kaddish Chawan was a solitary and singular practice. I glazed them and nothing else at the same time. There were no other pots on the table and I thought of nothing else.  The firing was the same.  I fired only the Kaddish Chawan in one week groupings, seven chawan in each firing.

When I was glazing the last few chawan my thoughts traveled to places that we had visited as a family, especially those places that we visited on our family cyclotouring trips. These were special times together; on our own, on our bicycles, unsupported, exposed.  I speak to friends about these trips often.  Spontaneously, images of the beautiful landscapes that we rode through here in the US, Canada and Denmark played across my mind, and a vessel waiting to be glazed and fired, presented itself. This Landscape Vessel is the only piece that I glazed and fired in concert with my Kaddish Chawan. 

900. SOLD


All of these chawan, and all of my chawan, are thrown on the potters wheel using a method called "throwing off the hump."  It is a technique whereby a large piece of clay, 15-20 pounds, is put on the wheel, it is shaped into a tall cone and small pieces are made successively off the top and cut off.  The bottoms or "foot" of pieces made this way must be trimmed by placing them upside down only after they have hardened sufficiently.  Because of this method, the work cannot be signed or otherwise labeled until the trimming has taken place.

In order to preserve the daily order of the making of my Kaddish Chawan, I wrote the number of the piece on these yellow notes and placed them inside each bowl as I made them.

Just as I have asked you to experience the exhibition as closely as I made the journey, these yellow tags also chronicle my daily Kaddish.


Unlike reciting Kaddish in shul which must be done in the presence of ten adults, my personal Kaddish was solitary.  I made each tea bowl in the quiet and privacy of my studio when there was no one else around. The practice was meditative and contemplative.  There were a few occasions during the year when I intentionally invited a friend to be there with me as an observer to share the few minutes that it took to make the bowl.

These individual Kaddish Chawan are labeled as such.

Rabbi Keith Stern, a dear friend of ours and a very important friend to Jared, was so moved by the exhibition and being in the presence of the 365 Kaddish Chawan that he crafted his 2015 Yom Kippur concluding sermon framing the experience and expression of Mourners Kaddish, grief, and remembrance around “A Father’s Kaddish.” Listen to his talk here.

My Year Of Kaddish

All 365 Kaddish Chawan's are glazed and then fired in the Raku technique. This firing method is Japanese in origin dating to the late 16th century. The technique is closely associated with the origins of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and Raku Chawan's are prized by Japanese Tea Masters and practitioners. I was first introduced to Raku as a graduate student in 1975 andhave been Raku firing my work exclusively since the early 1980's. When Jared began studying pottery he often assisted me with my firings. Click on the image below for a full explanation of Raku. 

All of the Kaddish Chawan are numbered 1-365 and dated

All Kaddish Chawans are for sale unless marked NFS (not for sale) . Each Kaddish Chawan is $325 with all proceeds distributed to the cancer fighting organizations that we support. To make a purchase, email Steven Branfman at Include the number(s) of the chawan(s) and your complete contact information; name, phone, email, snail mail. You may also call Steven at 617 447 3500.

Hover over the image to preview its number, date and status  as SOLD. or NFS (not for sale)  Click the image for a larger view and to see it's number and date.

UPDATE: As of September, 2023, there are fewer than 65 Kaddish Chawan's remaining for purchase..

Kaddish Chawan 15 Year Anniversary

In 2020, on the 15th anniversary of Jared's passing, Elul 23 on the Hebrew calendar, the date of his Yahrzeit, I went into the studio and made a Kaddish Chawan. I then made a chawan in each of the following 12 months on the 23rd day of that Hebrew month.

As are the 365 Kaddish Chawans, unless marked NFS (not for sale), they are available for purchase. Each 15 Year Kaddish Chawan is $325 with all proceeds distributed to the cancer fighting organizations that we support. To make a purchase, email Steven Branfman at Include the number(s) of the chawan(s) and your complete contact information; name, phone, email, snail mail. You may also call Steven at 617 447 3500.

Hover over the image to preview its number, date and status  as SOLD. or NFS (not for sale)  Click the image for a larger view and to see its number and date.

A Father's Kaddish

the film

During the final week of the exhibition, I was approached by documentary filmmaker Jen Kaplan who had heard about, the show and encouraged by a friend who had seen it, to film the exhibition. She was so moved by what she saw, she approached me about making a documentary film about the exhibition and the ten years that brought me to that place. After many hours of filming and audio, a trailer was made. Below is the 4 minute trailer.

Work on the film continued for five years and was completed in April 2020.  Upon completion, submissions to film festivals throughout the USA and abroad of A Father's Kaddish, The Film began, with the signature festival being the Boston Jewish Film Festival for debut in October of that year. 

Later that spring we received the exciting news that A Father's Kaddish had been accepted into the Toronto Jewish Film Festival for its World Premiere and the Boston Jewish Film Festival for its USA Premiere. Poetically, this marked the 15th anniversary of Jared's passing and the 5th anniversary of A Father's Kaddish, the exhibition.

To date, A Father's Kaddish has appeared in over 40 film festivals and community screenings including the Austin Jewish Film Festival, Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival, San Antonio Jewish Film Festival, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Maine Jewish Museum, Asylum Hill Congregational Church Hartford CT, First Parish Unitarian Church Arlington MA, Jewish Center Of The Hamptons, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the American Museum Of Ceramic Art, with more film events on the calendar.

These are some of the comments shared by viewers:

Simply exquisite. The healing powers of art, ritual, connection and time, uniquely blended to bring meaning to your grief. Kaddish as it should be.

Dr Karen J Dover, Ottawa ON

I thought it was the best thing I saw at the Festival.

Edna, Toronto ON

We sat silently, because there were no words needed. It was beautiful and moving. It also helped me understand you, your life, your mission...a little more than before.

Jane and Jon Migdol, Natick MA

Much of my clinical work has been focused on helping people navigate grief and loss and you have captured a unique journey to find your way through and along the way to create and help others to also be seen.  

Patricia Rogers, West Roxbury MA

A Father's Kaddish was also the winner of the prestigious Audience Award for Best Documentary Short at the Denver Jewish Film Festival.

The Teabowl: East and West

In 2015, shortly after the closing of “A Father’s Kaddish,” I was contacted by Bonnie Kemske, clay artist, writer and chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) practitioner. She had become aware of my devotion to the chawan and the exhibition of my 365 Kaddish Chawan’s. Bonnie was assembling stories and images for a new book, The Teabowl: East and West and asked me if she could include my Kaddish Chawan’s in the book. The Teabowl: East and West was published in 2017.

Excerpt from The Teabowl: East and West, BloomsburyPress, page 122-123

A response to our world

Among Tea practitioners the teabowl is not seen as the most important utensil. Usually that role is held by the scroll, followed by the tea caddies (chaire and natsume), then the tea scoop (chashaku), and finally the teabowl. However, the teabowl is the object imbued with the greatest intimacy between host and guest. It is held in both hands and touched to the lips; it is experienced as much through its tactile qualities as through its appearance. It is the physical link between host, guests and even the potter.

It is this inherent personal quality that has drawn many ceramicists to the chawan and led to its iconic status. Some potters have responded to tragedies in their lives through the teabowl. During the year following his son’s death, Steven Branfman (US) created a teabowl each day (figure 81). ‘For a year they were the only pots I made. One chawan each day no matter where I was. My wife Ellen, son Adam, and I, together in Shul, said Kaddish [the Jewish mourning ritual] every day for a year. My daily chawan making at my wheel was my own personal Kaddish. Ten years later Branfman exhibited the teabowls in a powerful exhibition titled A Father’s Kaddish: The Celebration of (a) Life in the Aftermath of Death.

[Figure 81: Steven Branfman, installation photo with Kaddish Chawan 235/365, May 19, Jared’s Birthday in foreground. Thrown 2005; glazed and fired 2015. Wheel-thrown stoneware with brushed raku and commercial low-fire glaze, raku fired, 7.6 × 10.1 cm. Photo by Nicki Pardo Photography

Upon the publication of The Teabowl: East and West,  Bonnie went on a speaking tour in which she highlighted significant aspects of her book. Click on the image below to listen and watch her 2017 lecture at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. You can forward to the 30:13 mark to hear her remarks about A Father's Kaddish.  

Coinciding with the publishing of The Teabowl: East and West, in November, 2017, the Leach Pottery Museum in St. Ives, England, mounted an exhibition “The Teabowl: Past & Present” in which my work was included.

From The Leach Museum:

This Museum exhibition tells the story of the teabowl, a highly valued ceramic form closely linked with Japan and becoming increasingly popular in contemporary Western ceramics. The exhibition will present 55 examples of teabowls, including historic teabowls from the East, teabowls made in the West in the spirit of tradition, and teabowls made with a sense of subversion.

Curated by artist and writer Dr Bonnie Kemske, and Dr Matthew Tyas of the Leach Pottery, the exhibition will also tell the history of the teabowl, as it arose in the East through use in chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremony, and its journey to the West. Outside of Japan, many potters have venerated traditional teabowl techniques and aesthetics, while some have chosen to subvert and challenge its deep cultural legacy.

The leach Museum

A Father's Kaddish

into the future

To be kept up to date on film screenings and Q&As, and other A Father's Kaddish activities and events, please email me at, and visit the film website where the screening schedule is posted and where you can sign up for our mailing list to receive monthly updates on screening schedules and details.

If you would like to support future screenings of A Father's Kaddish,  you can make a tax deductible donation online at

Or you can send a check to the Center For Independent Documentary, PO Box 95216, Newton, MA 02495. Write "A Father's Kaddish" in the memo line or enclose a note. 

Thank you so much for your interest and consideration.

With heartfelt thanks....