Monday, April 21, 2014 Nisan 21, 5774

Framing Israeli Culture

February 21, 2013 By:
Phyllis Steinberg, Special Sections Feature
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Tallit and shofar by Orna Amranni

Artists in Israel rely on tourists to purchase most of their works of art. Traveling to Israel also aids the economy, but not everyone is able to take a trip to the Jewish state.

Works of art by Israeli artists are plentiful in the United States. Synagogues in most communities have gift shops where you can purchase artwork made in Israel and there are Judaic stores in cities where there are significant Jewish populations. Israeli art is also available online by simply typing in key words such as “Israeli art work” or “Israeli gift items.”

The culture of a country is often reflected in its artwork. Visitors to Jerusalem are enthralled with its sense of history, its centuries-old historical sites such as the Western Wall, cobblestone streets and unique shops in the Jewish Quarter. Many Jews seek out Israeli art to remind them of their heritage while others purchase it to remind them of their recent travels to the Jewish homeland.

Israeli artist Orna Amrani said many members of her family living in Israel are artists.

“My family in Israel is very artistic,” Amrani said. “But in Israel you have to work at another job and be an artist at the same time, as it is hard to support yourself there on being an artist.”

Amrani, a native of Haifa, says her inspiration comes from growing up in Israel — using Judaic symbols such as Torah scrolls, mezzuzot and tallit.

Amrani replicates prayers from the Torah and sculpts her works of art with clay and bakes them at a high temperature. To view Amrani’s works of art, log on to: www.oamrani.com.

Artist Reuven Masel, 51, was born in Teaneck, N.J., but became infatuated with Jewish art and Jerusalem at a young age. His wife, Zipora, was born in Israel. Masel met her when he was attending a yeshiva in Israel and the couple merged their artistic talents to create stunning works of art that capture the essence of Jewish history, historical scenes in Israel and around the world.

The Masels’ handcrafted artwork is not limited to pictures. Their works of art include replica landmark synagogues, menorahs for children and adults, charity boxes and seder plates.

“I’ve been asked to work on big projects that are not Jewish, but I said no,” Masel said. “I have to feel the artwork to create it.”

Much of their artwork is crafted in the decoupage process creating a three-dimensional effect. “The decoupage process involves die-cutting or, in some cases, hand-cutting pieces of the printed artwork and pasting on level by level to achieve the three dimensional effect,” Masel said.

The artwork is inspired in part from traditional Jewish motifs found in synagogues across the globe. “My wife and I have traveled around the world and love visiting ancient and landmark synagogues,” Masel said. “This has given us inspiration for much of the artwork and Judaica that we have made.

“For instance, The Blue Dome Home Blessing piece is from a synagogue in Szeged, Hungary. The Woman of Valor Lisbon is from the Lisbon Bible Manuscripts and the Toledo Home Blessing is inspired from motifs found in the Medieval Toledo Synagogue. The Jerusalem Sights Home Blessing and Israel Sights depict landmarks throughout Israel and especially Jerusalem.”

Zipora Masel said reading from Psalms and Proverbs inspires her.

“Just like King David and King Shlomo are inspired by passages to write songs, I am inspired by the passages to do artwork,” she said.

For information about Masels’ artwork, go to: www.jewishexpressions.com.

 

This article originaally appeared in "Buy Israel Week," a special section.

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