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Jewish Art for the Soul

Scratchboard
Scratchboard

Artist’s Statement: The first holiday that I celebrated when I returned to Yiddishkeit was Chanukah, and I certainly have done my fair share of Chanukah menorahs, along with designing some Chanukah-themed fabrics when I was a textile designer. This piece was done on scratchboard.

Artist’s Statement: “'Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts.”

This quote from Zechariah is written on the menorah that was found in the desecrated Temple. Olive trees surround the central pipe because olive oil lit the menorah. The landscape is made of collage maps of Israel.

Artist’s Statement: The menorah of the Holy Temple evoked the image of a tree. Its central shaft was like a trunk and the other lamps were its "branches". The decorations were referred to as almonds, buds, and flowers. Today the menorah remains a tree of light, a tree of life, a tree of fire.

This expressionistic orange menorah looks like a glowing tree with a stream of water flowing beneath it. The menorah spreads out in an abundance of branches and light. In the book of Psalms, a person who meditates on the Torah is compared to a leafy and fruitful tree planted by streams of water. He becomes a living menorah as his roots reach into the waters of Torah and his branches shine out across his surroundings.

Artist’s Statement: This piece features the multicolored coat from the Biblical story of Joseph, found in the Torah portion of Vayeshev. The coat is floating in front of imagery from Joseph's dreams. Hebrew verses are featured throughout the piece.

Pastel & Ink on Paper
Pastel & Ink on Paper

Artist’s Statement: On Chanukah we publicize the miracle of the oil. We publicize the power of G‑d who saved us from the vast Hellenist army, but at the same time it is a very intimate festival. You see families or groups behind the window lighting their menorahs. They are in the house but bring the miracle outside. Thats's how I feel we live as Jews. From our own safe house (our Torah life) we show the world our values, our priorities. Everybody can see them and learn, or be enlightened (pun intended in this case)!

Acrylic & Ink on Canvas
Acrylic & Ink on Canvas

Artist’s Statement: A light unto the nations. Depicting the impact the menorah has on its surroundings. The menorah spreads the message of light and religious freedom to the White House and beyond.

Pastel & Ink on Paper
Pastel & Ink on Paper

Artist’s Statement: Of all the awkward moments in history, this is one of the most awkward! Joseph was sold to Egypt by his brothers, it was a Divine plan. The brothers never expected to see him back, even less as the viceroy of Egypt! When they found out who they were talking to, were they afraid he would take revenge? You bet. They knew they had wronged him terribly. But Joseph did not take revenge. Sometimes that is the best revenge. Many Chassidic stories allude to this. Leave it to G‑d. All that happened was His plan, and gam zu letovah - this, too, is for the good! Joseph has a pained expression on his face; he is torn between many feelings and emotions! Joseph is a person who saw it all....and yet he remained a tzaddik.

Pastel & Ink on Paper
Pastel & Ink on Paper

Artist’s Statement: What we see is a Divine plan, but first: a family drama. Did Jacob (subliminally or not) favor the oldest son of his beloved wife Rachel over his other sons? That's how it appears. He sent Joseph to find his brothers. Was that a smart idea? In human terms it's debatable. The teller of dreams in which his father, mother and brothers would serve him wore his beautiful coat when he talked to the brothers. That angered them. They are human. They were shepherds in work clothes and this fine gentleman came to "spy" on them. If it wasn't a Divine plan it would be a nice Shakespearean drama, measure for measure. But it was a divine plan!

Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

Artist’s Statement: This is a painting of a bride, her guest, and her future mother-in-law at a traditional Jewish wedding in upstate New York.

Woven Tapestry
Woven Tapestry

Artist’s Statement: I like to work with bold colors. The wool dyes have a special richness and the texture has a softness which gives warmth and beauty to the finished piece. Weaving is a slow process. A 12" square takes about 30 hours to weave.

Chassidic thought teaches that prayer is like a ladder, and the arousal from below through prayer creates an arousal from above. The colors below are mirrored in the sky above. The light in the sky is not from the sun or moon but from the "source of light," the Infinite Light of G‑d. The ladder seems to send a current of energy down into the physical world, infusing the objects in it with brightness and vitality. Jacob jumps out from the frame of the picture. His presence is within the physical world whilst his dream spans the two worlds: physical and spiritual. The angels are travelling messengers, transmitting his prayers upwards and drawing G‑dliness down.

Multimedia
Multimedia

Artist’s Statement: An attempt at showing the human in relation to the sefirot, the universe, and elements in our world. In the pattern of the limbs of a human, we arbitrate between worlds with our will.

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Pastel & Ink on Paper
Pastel & Ink on Paper

Artist’s Statement: Shalom! I made this drawing during the week of Chanukah, the week of light in which we celebrate the victory of Torah values over the forces of evil. Even if things look difficult we light our candles, and the light grows with one candle on the first night, two on the second night, till we light eight candles on the last night. Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg, who were brutally murdered in the Mumbai terror attacks, did not spread light only on Chanukah; they spread light all year round! Let’s honor their legacy by doing more mitzvahs than we currently do.

This drawing shows some of the many mitzvahs the Holtzbergs loved and cherished, and I made it in honor of all the victims in the Mumbai Chabad House.


In the top left corner a man puts on tefillin and takes his son with him to synagogue. A kiddush cup, symbolizing Shabbat, floats next to him and the name Gavriel. Over his head is a verse connected to the name Gavriel (the verse begins and ends with the first and last letters of the name): “I will also praise You with string instruments, even your truth, oh my G‑d: unto You I will sing with the harp, oh You Holy One of Israel.” (Psalms 71:22)


In the middle is an Ark with the letters kaf and tav, (an abbreviation for keter Torah, the Crown of the Torah). Two lions on top to honor the victims Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum and Ben Tzion Chroman.


On the right side of the Ark the Rebbe invites people to do mitzvahs.


The house in the middle is made of Jewish books. To study Jewish subjects is a big mitzvah. It is open on one side and has a nice table in the middle with warm inviting light and good food. The people in this house invite guests and make them comfortable. The wagon of the Baal Shem Tov (above) symbolizes the stories which are told, the books which are read, the stories about Chassidic topics and the Torah thoughts which are shared around the table. The wing on the left belongs to the “good angel” mentioned in the traditional Shabbat song, Shalom Aleichem, which is sung on Friday nights. Near the table are the names of the victims Yocheved Orpaz and Norma (Nechamah) Shvartzblat.


In the bottom half of the drawing several women light Shabbat candles—grandmothers, mothers with their daughters, young girls. In front of them are two challahs to symbolize Shabbat (like the man with his kiddush cup), a coffee pot to symbolize kindness and hospitality, and the name Rivkah. Around them winds the verse related to the name Rivkah, “Tremble and sin not, commune with your own heart on your bed and be still, selah.” (Psalms 4:5)


In the bottom left corner two children put money in a tzeddakah box. I dedicate this drawing to the blessed memory of the victims, and to little Moshe Holtzberg, may he grow up and be a light in Israel.

Creative works exploring life and Judaism composed by a spectrum of Jewish artists.

"The primary talent of an artist is his ability to step away from the externalities of the thing and, disregarding its outer form, gaze into its innerness and perceive its essence, and to be able to convey this in his painting.This is how an artist can serve his Creator." — The Rebbe


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