Jewish Calligraphy: More Than Just for Art’s Sake


They remember that day in 1979 very well. Saul Zalesne went into a little framing shop in Northeast Philadelphia to pick up something his wife had dropped off.

"I had nothing else on my mind but to pick up the framed art and go back to my business … until I met Mordechai," recalls Zalesne, referring to now renowned artist Mordechai Rosenstein. "He was a very unusual guy, interesting to talk to.

"And then I happened to see a piece of original art he had created called 'Tzedek.' I was in the automobile business and he was in the framing business, but from that day on, I knew we could work together recreating his original and beautiful pieces of art."

Rosenstein remembers it much the same way: "We started to talk, and I said if I had the money, I could reproduce my work and then sell it. Well, two days later, Saul showed up, said he borrowed the money and believed we could make a business work. So we made a print, sold it, went to a convention and, 26 years later, here we are."

Today, Zalesne and Rosenstein – along with Barry Magen, principals in Emes Editions Ltd. of Elkins Park – are the exclusive representatives for the works of Rosenstein. Among the many Judaica tapestries, serigraphs, murals and silk-screens, the company has now introduced a special Judaica awards collection for all occasions.

The Rosenstein Awards Collection features some 150 custom-crafted images, each embracing the artist's warm glow, rich rhythm and blend of color with his deep love of Judaism.

Rosenstein has catapulted into international prominence by using Hebrew lettering as a basis for his limited edition, contemporary works that feature vibrant shapes and colors. Absorbed in Judaism, he often derives his inspiration from passages in the siddur and Chumash.

The sparks that ignite his imagination and creativity are found in Torah, Jewish ethics and nature itself.

A native of Philadelphia and current resident of Elkins Park, Rosenstein graduated from Akiba Hebrew Academy and the Philadelphia College of Art. He says he was influenced by teacher and friend Franz Kline, one of the foremost New York abstract expressionists, and also intrigued by the Impressionism of Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and Marc Chagall.

"We've been doing this now for more than two decades," says Rosenstein, "and have traveled the world offering people these original designs. From Hong Kong to Zurich, from London to Alaska, and all over our own country. Saul is the businessman. I just have to do the designs."

For more information, call 215-635-7070.



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