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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘art’

Hamshushalayim 2012 Theme: ‘Humor’

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Hamshushalayim is the central cultural festival of the winter season in Israel that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and offers a unique combination of hundreds of quality cultural events coupled with tourist and culinary attractions, all concentrated into four fun packed weekends during December. Thanks to a sweeping collaboration of Jerusalem’s cultural institutions, tourist centers and culinary venues, the festival-goers of Hamshushalayim are invited to spend the weekends enjoying the city till the late hours of the night.

The central theme of Hamshushalayim 2012 is ‘Humor’ – for your enjoyment in the capital, the festival will feature shows of Israeli, Jewish, Yerushalmi, bible and international humor, stand-up comedians, satire, story telling and jokesters, comedies, cabaret, humorist literature and poetry, humor in art, pantomime comics, laugh yoga, and funny theatrical tours for all the family.

Israel’s finest artist, producers and comedians will descent on Jerusalem to entertain and make you laugh: Gavri and Uri Banai on Humor in the Jerusalem theatre, Dan Almagor exploring the origins of Yerushalmi humor in a series of seminars at the YMCA. Yossi Alfy with Yerushalmi laughter stories. Caricaturist Michel Kichka in the Tower of David. A mad stand-up marathon at The Incubator Theatre. Classic comedy performances at the Khan Theatre. Movie laughter mayhem at the Cinematheque, humor in literature and poetry at Agnon House. Special shows for children at the Train Theatre, and much more.

Visit their website.

From Rockets to Roses

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Look at the amazing, amazing things created by this artist – Rockets into roses….my greatest wish is that he soon runs out of base material from which to create his amazing art and that he never be supplied with more.

Look at this website to see what beauty can be shaped when love and art is stronger than hate and destruction:  http://rocketsintoroses.com/

I hope you’ll buy something to support this – but even if you don’t – just going there to see what beauty he has created is one way to show support. I hope one day soon to buy something myself…they aren’t cheap…but God, they touch my heart.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Reading Szyk’s Cards

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Heroes of Ancient Israel: The Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk Published by Historicana – www.szyk.com

Arthur Szyk (1894; Lodz, Poland – 1951; New Canaan, USA) was a driven man determined to serve his people through his art. A passionate supporter of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionists from at least the mid-1930’s, Szyk’s art almost always had a political edge. As we noted on these pages arch 12 & 19 2010, the Szyk Haggadah (1934 -1936) was originally an explicitly anti-Fascist creation. Therefore the recent publication by Historicana of “Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk” is notable for its lack of overt political content. Indeed, its strength lies in a subtler affirmation of Jewish sovereignty and wisdom.

Trumpeldor’s Defense of Tel Hai (1936) by Arthur Szyk
Courtesy The Robbins Family Collection

In many ways the painting, “Trumpeldor’s Defense of Tel Hai,” Lodz, 1936 is more typical of Szyk’s work during those years. Here he is celebrating the ultimate sacrifice of Joseph Trumpeldor, the venerable hero of early Zionist settlement, martyred on March 1, 1920. Szyk depicts the one-armed Trumpeldor rallying his men to defend the northern Jewish settlement. Our green-shirted hero is at the pinnacle of a heroic pyramid of fighters composed of every kind of Jew – women, men, old, young, pious and secular. The quotation from Pirkei Avos 1:14 at the bottom of the image: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” brilliantly unites a political image with a sacred text. Significantly, this image was later used by the Bergson Group in America to rally support for the defense and establishment of the State of Israel during World War II.

In contrast, the original watercolor and gouache painting of “Playing Card Art” (Collection of Raziel Unger) thought to date from the mid-1930’s (the works are undated) simply arranges Jewish kings, Queens and heroes into the Court Cards (King, Queen, Jack) of the standard four playing card suites (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds & Clubs). That said, Szyk’s choices and order of placement are revealing. I believe it will be instructive to read the cards as a kind of psychological transition from a harsh and aggressive hero to a more subtle expression of Jewish power. It is important to note that we have no indication from the artist as to his ultimate intentions in these works.

All of the figures are holding a symbolic object that denotes their power or attribute. This arrangement reflects the historical tradition of European playing cards that, beginning in the 14th century, were hand-painted (and printed) illuminated miniatures generally depicting figures of nobility. It is logical to seek a common theme across each suite and to order it within the chronology of Jewish history, as can be easily seen in Szyk’s choice of kings.

Ruth, Queen of Hearts by Arthur Szyk
Heroes of Ancient Israel: Playing Card Art published by Historicana

The King of Spades is King Saul, grasping the fateful spear that he threw in anger at David. He menacingly frowns at the viewer, a pure distillation of aggression. Next to him is Queen of Spades, Queen Esther, holding a royal scepter that is hers by right and by dint of her courage to approach King Ahasuerus unbidden. She gazes at us imperiously. Finally the Jack of Spades is represented by Judah Maccabee, the proto-typical Jewish revolutionary general. His laudatory cunning and courage are perhaps mitigated by the fact that his family presumptuously combined the office of High Priest with that of King of Israel. Each member of this suite exhibits an assertive if not aggressive personality.

Next the King of Clubs is King David, here represented by his poetic harp. His gaze is softer and more thoughtful than Saul. Judith is the Queen of Clubs and, while brandishing her sword with a determined look, she is known for her great piety and skillful manipulation of the foolish Holofernes, who was drunkenly led to the bed in which he would lose his head. Bar Kochba is the Jack of Clubs, also with a more introspective expression, his heroism against the Romans but a prelude to the tragic beginning of a 2000 year exile.

Drawing with Rockets

Monday, November 19th, 2012

In years to come, when peace reigns, maybe sky drawing with rockets will become its own art genre. For now, these appear to be the trails of Arab rockets shot at Israel and the Iron Dome rockets that rise to meet them. And together they form a Star of David.

We could try for a crescent moon, I suppose, but it would take many more rockets on either side…

Incidentally, I got this photo from our correspondent Lori Lowenthal Marcus, who tells me she saw it on an IDF re-tweet, so we both hope it’s real. Otherwise it’s just a cheap shot.

Should break some Arab terrorist’s heart, though…

To Tell The Truth: An Unlikely Scenario

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Despite public surveys that show the general public largely opposed to negative campaigning, the overwhelming majority of candidates in contested races have refined this strategy almost to an art form.

And why not? After all, many of these same polls also conclude that this type of campaigning – whereby the candidate too often distorts his or her opponent’s record while spewing venomous personal attacks – works, as seeds of doubt regarding the opponent’s fitness for office are planted in voters’ minds.

But imagine if Barack Obama and Mitt Romney discarded this strategy in favor of saying what they really think and what they offer the American people.

Under this unlikely scenario, here is what I’d like them to say. We’ll begin with President Obama:

I have been accused by some political detractors of supporting economic policies that have a distinct socialist bent.

Well, if governing with compassion by advocating the creation of a society that benefits the American people by equalizing the social status of all Americans makes me a socialist, I proudly plead guilty.

If ensuring that as many Americans as possible have the basic necessities of daily living, even at the cost of taking more from those who have made it and giving that share of the pie to those who, for whatever reason, have not, makes me a proponent of income redistribution, I will proudly wear the title of the “Robin Hood of American politics.”

If the cost of solving today’s economically challenging times is to spend beyond our means, a strategy nobody really likes but one that is sometimes necessary, then I will propose in a second term more stimulus spending and more entitlement programs. Yes, there are times in a nation’s life when the government must spend, even when resources are scarce, to protect the have-nots.

I realize that some describe this policy as an irresponsible means of spending other people’s money and mortgaging the fiscal future of the next generation. But, if reelected, I will continue my policy of deficit spending to rescue America from an economic catastrophe that I inherited from my predecessor – something I apologize for reminding you of yet again.

The protection of Social Security in its current form from insolvency and the maintaining of Medicare and Medicaid for our nation’s seniors and disabled are areas I will pay particular attention to in a second term. And if adequate resources in the national treasury are lacking to fix these impending problems, I will yet again tax the wealthy Americans among us.

And my justification for this is simple: If the ultra-conservative chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, concluded that it is within the government’s right to force one American to provide health insurance for his or her fellow American through higher taxes – as he ruled recently when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of my universal health care legislation – then surely Congress and I can see to it that certain Americans, namely high-income earners, pay whatever is necessary to secure a better future for the most vulnerable among us.

If a judicial champion of conservatism like John Roberts says that any type of taxation can be left to the discretion of the executive and legislative branches of government, its imposition on anything those branches deem necessary to improve America’s human condition should logically be supported.

And speaking of government’s legal right to impose necessary revenue enhancers on taxpayers, government must have the same right to impose mandatory regulations – similar to my administration’s health care legislation’s rules – on businesses that unfairly profit off the backs of American workers. And my administration, in protecting workers’ rights, will determine what constitutes unfair profits and act accordingly.

My general philosophy of good government at work is this: The longstanding general business principle of putting greed over equality and profit over compassion must go by the wayside. For as President Woodrow Wilson once said, “we are all caught in a great economic system which is heartless.”

* * * * *

In the national security and foreign policy realms I will continue to punish the guilty, as my order to kill Osama bin Laden and my policy of using drones against terrorists in Pakistan has demonstrated. But my overall goal remains what it has always been: a secure international peace that will stand the test of time, through the values of decency and humaneness that made and that keeps America great.

Which Are You?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I watched them tear a building down;
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a mighty heave and a lusty yell,
They swung a boom and a side wall fell.

I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just a common laborer is all I need.
And I can wreck in a day or two
What it took the builder a year to do.”

And I thought to myself as I went my way,
“Just which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care
Measuring life by the rule and square,
Or am I a wrecker as I walk the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?”

When I read this anonymously written poem, I immediately thought about self-confidence. Do you work brick by brick to build your own self-confidence and those of everyone around you or do you use a wrecking ball to knock it all down? Granted, it is a lot quicker to wreck things than it is to build them well.

But, self-confidence is essential to a healthy, happy life. Self-confidence is needed in order to create meaningful friendships, apply for competitive jobs, and parent our children with assurance and ease. Perhaps the most important reason we need to believe in ourselves is that if we do not, we will teach our children that it is okay to put themselves down as well. This can ultimately lead to a rejection of self.

First, let’s discuss how to build your own self-confidence.

Focus on the positive. Obviously, no one is perfect, but every one of us has positive qualities that we can build on. Even if overall you are not happy with who you are – you can definitely come up with qualities that you appreciate about yourself. Perhaps you are a wonderful organizer, a great listener or an excellent cook. Make a list of the things you like about yourself and schedule activities that bring out those qualities during your day.

Some examples:

If you are a wonderful organizer: Volunteer to run a fundraiser for your shul or school.

If you are a great listener: Visit the elderly and listen to their stories about the past.

If you are an excellent cook: Cook meals for the new mothers in your neighborhood or for the less fortunate.

Engaging in activities that you feel competent in (and that are additionally helpful to others) will help build your self-confidence.

Treat yourself. Every now and then, remind yourself that you are worth it. Depending on what you can afford (both time and money), give yourself something you love: a massage, an hour of babysitting to read your book quietly, a fast walk outside to clear your mind, or an extra two hours of sleep. Treating yourself will signal to your inner “wrecking ball” that you believe you have value.

Once you begin to work on your own self-confidence, it might be time to focus on your children as well. Do they say things like, “I am so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right”? If so, they could use some help figuring out how to build themselves up.

Child psychologists and educators often suggest the following steps:

Avoid labels. Instead of saying, “You are so smart.” Say, “When you figured out how to read that sign without any help, I was so impressed with how much you have learned.” Or, instead of “You are a kind and sweet girl” say, “Remember the time when your sister Faigy was crying and you went over and sang her a song to make her feel better? That was so nice of you.”

Engage in their strengths. Just as you should do for yourself, talk to your child about the things she feels she does well and then help her do those activities regularly. For instance, if your daughter is artistic, sign her up for an art class after school or on Sundays. If your budget does not allow for afterschool activities, consider investing in some art supplies that will be hers alone so that she can feel special.

Int’l Festival Brings Morocco’s Sacred Music to Jerusalem

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival recently brought a new tradition to the holy city. For 24 consecutive hours, artists and musicians from Israel and abroad, shared a variety of musical traditions last Thursday, September 6, through the wee hours of the next morning.

Centered at Jerusalem’s Tower of David, the festival venues were chosen to reflect a message of inter-faith unity and sanctity at historical venues reflective of Jerusalem’s diverse faiths.

Musical events and shows were held at Zedekiah’s Cave in the Old City and Notre Dame across the road from the New Gate. In addition to taking part in a Slichot workshop, festival participants also had the opportunity to tour the Ethiopian, Franciscan and Armenian morning prayers at the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

The music festival featured esoteric, meditative and ceremonial music from Azerbaijan, Iran, Africa, Morocco, Iraq, Brazil, and India as well as a Sufi dance workshop. The festival opened with Persian music and chants performed by two Iranian musicians based in Canada, the brothers Kiya and Zia Tabassian who played and sang together with Israeli percussionist Zohar Fresco.

Other international artists included Morocco’s Hassan Hakmoun and his New York-based ensemble, who performed ancient African Islamic folk music of the Islamic Gnawa sect, descendants of West African slaves brought to North Africa several hundred years ago.

Speaking with Tazpit News Agency, Hakmoun described his childhood growing up in Marrakesh, Morocco. “I grew up in a musical family in Morocco. My mother is mystic music healer and I learned the Gnawan musical traditions from a young age.”

“This is my second time in Israel,” added Hakmoun, who performed in Tel Aviv in 1994. Hakmoun, who is Muslim, believes that people can live as one. “When you come to Jerusalem, you see churches, mosques and synagogues, next to each other. There is a peacefulness here that you never see on TV.”

“The most amazing part of this city, is seeing how the footsteps of all the world’s major religions have passed through here—the prophets actually walked through these neighborhoods,” said Hakmoun.

Hakmoun moved to the United States in his early twenties with his family and made his first U.S. musical debut at the Lincoln Center in 1987. He has since then performed widely across the U.S. and internationally, and produced several albums, fusing traditional Gnawan music with American sounds, and making the Gnawan musical and dance tradition a popular element in the American music scene.

“In Morocco, Gnawa music wasn’t so popular when I was growing up, but thanks to the major Gnawa World Music Festival that was spear-headed by the senior adviser to Morocco’s King Mohammed, André Azoulay, who is also Jewish, our traditional music has become much more appreciated in my home country” explained Hakmoun.

Playing the sintir, a three-stringed lute with a body made of camel skin stretched over nutwood, Hakmoun sang soulful and spiritual Gnawan rhythms with his ensemble, to a mostly Israeli audience at the Tower of David on Thursday night. Of the many chants, and songs that were played, Hakmoun also included a prayer for peace for the region.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/intl-festival-brings-moroccos-sacred-music-to-jerusalem/2012/09/10/

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