Skip to content

The Whole Spiel

In Memoriam: Avrum Ashery

February 28, 2024

Avrum Ashery (1944-2023) was a graphic artist who designed many familiar logos for the Jewish community, locally and nationwide. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Ashery spent his 40-year career with the federal government in the DC area, including as art director for Walter Reed Hospital, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the General Accountability Office. He died on December 3, 2023.

Ashery’s involvement in Jewish cultural life led him to design work for the Soviet Jewry movement, the development of the United States’ first Hanukkah postal stamp, and the President’s Commission for the Holocaust Museum. He donated a collection of original work to the Museum in 2023.

Select works by Ashery are on view in the special exhibition, If It’s Jewish We Have It: Selections from the Collection, through April 21, 2024.

Highlights from the installation with accompanying descriptions follow.


Tribute to Avrum Ashery in the exhibition "If It's Jewish We Have It: Selections from the Collections," February 2024.

Bicentennial Design
Ashery designed this bicentennial logo for a contest held by the Jewish Bicentennial Commission of the
Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. It did not win—garnering Honorable Mention—but
proved popular with Jewish organizations nationwide including the National Women’s League for
Conservative Judaism and the National Jewish Welfare Board.

Ashery’s design depicts the Liberty Bell and a shofar together, which Ashery described as “symbols for
communicating to the people.” Surrounding the design is the Biblical passage inscribed on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10).
Ashery’s design was honored by the U.S. Bicentennial Committee and the first serigraph print was included in the Bicentennial Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

David, 1989
Ashery featured several Biblical figures in his work, including Ruth, Joshua, Joseph, and David.

Let My People Go, 1990
This image was on the cover of the Washington Jewish Week on April 5, 1990, for the Passover issue, and was used as part of the Soviet Jewry Movement in Washington.

Yosef, 1986
An interpretation of the biblical figure Joseph. Ashery was concerned with what he described in an interview with the Cleveland Jewish News as “the Jewish community’s (lack of) appreciation for Jewish cultural arts.” Ashery’s interpretation of Joseph’s robe is inspired by ancient Jewish tunics, which he says were the predecessor to the tallit, or prayer shawl.


These works, and more, are on view in the special exhibition, If It’s Jewish We Have It: Selections from the Collection, now through April 21, 2024.