Thursday, March 31, 2016

With New Eyes

March 23, 2016 by Lynn Lederman, photos by Toni Dachis

The sky was hazy as our bus left the Mediterranean and we began to climb. To many of us who had been here before, the road to Jerusalem had changed. Bedroom communities and construction cranes have replaced open green spaces.

Our group gathered in a sunny Jerusalem park overlooking the Old City to process what has already been a jam packed and thought provoking two days. Meryll shared a teaching from the Bava Mitziya about finding a blessing in that which had been hidden from our eyes.

We arrived at Kfuzot Hayer, a lane devoted to the arts, and split into two groups. Our group went with Rabbi Matt Berkowitz, (a former class mate of Rabbi Davis'). We learned about the amazing work he and David Moss are doing with Kol Haot.

Matt shared his seven year journey designing a very unique and visually pleasing three part Haggadah. The larger section contained beautifully designed prints, some with intricate paper cuts. 
Vibrant colors and 24 karat gold leaf adorned these stunning prints. The end papers were specially made with Israeli parsley and parsley fibers were in the paper.

The anthology also included 27 essays decorated with many Biblical motifs. This was made as a limited edition of 250 sets, of which 170 have already been sold. There is also a trade edition.

Matt led us in a discussion of the Binding of Isaac and then shared David Moss' scroll which was made into a Houston day school mural depicting the dramatic story.

Next, we studied a portion of the
 Purim Megillah and divided into small groups. Using David's techniques, each group designed a mural and we all enjoyed the creative process. 

The two large groups exchanged places and we entered David Moss' studio. David shared his personal journey, describing how he became a Jewish "folk artist". After meeting with a scribe for ten minutes, David knew that he wanted to breathe new life into the ancient art of making ketubot. He was like dry kindling waiting for the spark.

David would meet individually with couples and developed a process whereby he would personalize each ketuba. Often using intricate designs and exacting micrography, David's ketubot are stunning works of art. He showed us many of them, as well as the letters to the couples. Many of these have been published as magnificent books. 

David also was commissioned to create a unique Megillah and this process took three years. He was able to gain permission to use that work in order to publish a limited edition and subsequently a trade edition.

Being with David was an awe inspiring and uplifting experience.

Lunch in Machne Yehuda market was an experience. Each of us was given a "bite card" with six stalls and a map. We hunted for tastes and all left feeling well fed. Purim preparations were evident all around us. Not only aromatic hamentaschen (savory and sweet), but our ears were treated to a familiar Purim melody sung by a young man hawking "the best" strawberries.

Our last visit was the Artist's House. We had a private tour of their collection and exhibits, as well as the history of the Bezalel School from which Anat graduated.

After a much needed rest, we enjoyed a short walk to Darna, a Moroccan restaurant. This was both a culinary and visual delight! Some of us opted for a graffiti tour of Machane Yehuda. Another full and "eye opening" day!

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