I will be participating in the Salon ha Cubia exhibit opening October 28, 2017, at 8 pm in Nayot in Jerusalem, as part of the city-wide Manofim project. Closing January 25, 2018. Hope to see you there. Invitation

Pleased to be participating in the exhibition HOME(less) at HUC-JIR Museum NY. Running through the end of June 2018. For details see post

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Gallery Talk at Kol HaOt Invitation

Invitation to Kol HaOt Gallery Talk

Hope to see you at my  upcoming Gallery Talk. I will be discussing new work created during my month as Artist-in-Residence at Kol HaOt. Please note the time is 8 pm and not as previously posted. 

A separation from my Nachlaot studio in Jerusalem a mere 20 minutes away, using the beautiful  space  at the Kol HaOt gallery made it possible for me to switch mental gears and create works that had been percolating for a long time. The great northern-facing picture window and large walls also helped me see the works together as one led to the other. 

I granted myself the mental space alongside the physical space to explore personal topics of loss and commemoration. Interacting with the public and taking advantage of the opportunity to learn in hevruta (studying Jewish text in a pair) with Director Alyssa Moss-Rabinowitz all combined for a particularly fruitful time. 

Looking forward to sharing my process and new paintings and drawings with you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Invitation to Salon ha Cubia

I am pleased to be participating in the second biannual Salon ha Cubia. There will be 80 artists exhibiting from all over Israel showing paintings hung in the cheek by jowl Academy style. The works are not identified with labels, so less experienced and senior artists are hung together in a range of styles and subject matter.

Opening on Saturday night October 28, 2017 at 8 pm as part of the Manofim project, which opens the art season for 2017-18. Continuing through January 25, 2018.
Looking forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A 102 Years Young: Tova Berlinski at Artspace Gallery

Tova Berlinski, courtesy of Artspace Gallery

Jerusalem's art scene at Sukkot is running on steroids; there is so much going on at the same time. The Jerusalem Biennale is gearing up with rolling openings almost daily, the Manofim Festival is ready to take off. Every artist group and gallery has a special event during this festival when so many Israelis take off for vacation abroad just as so many visitors fill up the hotels and the otherwise vacant pied-à-terre apartments city-wide.

In this context, I've invited accomplished painter/artist Anne Sassoon to offer her viewpoint on Tova Berlinski, one of the generation who straddled the Second World War and Israel's founding and was in the circle of post-Independence Israeli artists. A rare woman in Israel's early art scene to have gained recognition, she was a teacher of  generations, a winner of the Jerusalem Prize, awarded the Ish Shalom Prize for lifetime achievement, her work has spanned decades and a world of changes in Jerusalem.

A tribute exhibit in honor of Berlinski's 102-nd birthday starts on Friday, October 13 at Linda Zisquit's Artspace Gallery in Jerusalem, a not-to-be-missed opportunity to know the work of this special artist. On a personal note, in my early years in Israel, her solo exhibit of black flowers at the Israel Museum left an indelible impression on me.

The gallery itself has recently been renewed and for fans of this special space it will be interesting to see the changes.

Tova Berlinski, courtesy of Artspace Gallery
From guest blogger Anne Sasoon:

It is deeply moving to walk into the exhibition of Tova Berlinski, Jerusalem’s iconic 102 year-old artist, at Artspace Gallery, and see how her vision and style developed during a wonderfully long lifetime of painting. This mini-retrospective shows that light and movement have always been Berlinski’s real subject, starting with the colorful abstractions of the 1960s, and leading through works which carry emotional content – like ‘Leaving Yamit’, portraits of her family (all, except for one sister, died in Auschwitz), and the two empty chairs painted after the loss of her husband.

But it is in the much later Black Flower paintings - some of them so dark that at first you can hardly make them out - that the importance of light and movement for Berlinski really shows itself.  In these works she hones in on plants as if putting them under a magnifying glass to explore the way they grow; and the light that glimmers around the edges of the writhing leaves, or glows in the quieter background areas, reveals the image like the light in an x-ray. These dark paintings have minimal colour but they are not as simply black and grey as they first appear, and the subtle browns and blues seem even richer for their rareness, a good example of how less can be more.

Berlinski’s paintings have a youthful quality that she has never lost – a fresh, open outlook and lack of artifice. Her delight in making these works is visible, and communicates itself to the viewer. You can see it in the light brushstrokes that seem to search out the forms that she creates: a handwriting of small gestures that can build up something huge. And because of the bare canvas left between the separate brushstrokes, these big forms – whether a row of cypress trees, a landscape, or the larger than life-size figure of a man – are never heavy, but seem to be made up of air and light.  This is not to minimize the strength and forcefulness of Berlinski, who can turn even the close-up of a pansy into a monumental presence.

A good selection of Berlinski’s best work is to be seen in this show. It’s the first exhibition to be shown in Linda Zisquit’s refurbished gallery, an acknowledgment of a long friendship and mutual respect. The artist will be present at the opening on Friday between 12 and 1pm. 
- Anne Sassoon
Tova Berlinski, courtesy of Artspace Gallery

Friday October 1310-2pm
Saturday October 148-10pm
Sunday October 155-10pm

Gallery: +972-2-5662423
5 Hazefira, Jerusalem

Friday, September 29, 2017

Graffiti Your Yom Kippur

"God is Watching" © 2017 Heddy Abramowitz

Jerusalem walls don't leave you alone. They are in your face, much like this city.

It is a self-selecting communication.

There is a passive conversation between strangers, the graffiti writers and artists and the random observers out in public, some paying attention, some just oblivious. Like religious belief itself.

For those tuned in they are purported to be on the same wavelength, for others, the reception on the weaker ends of the range is spotty, breaking up at times. For others, they are tuned into a different station or even staying off the radio or internet. Not present.

This message written on the fence surrounding yet another new building site in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem lets us know that even when we feel ourselves in control of the dial, the mouse, or the remote (shlatter in our familyspeak), we are a secondary actor, and there is something bigger than ourselves, whether in our acknowledgement or not.

With this in mind, Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day of the calendar year, comes in a few hours here in Jerusalem. It is referred to as the Shabbat of Shabbatot - the greatest of all the sabbath days. This is believed to be the Judgement Day when God determines and finalizes the fates of us all for the coming year.

Those who observe spend the day fasting, in prayer and in self-reflection. Others enjoy the carless streets and the pleasure of bike-riding, skate-boarding and hoverboarding on the only carless day of the year.

Why carless in a largely secular country? Because even the secular refrain from driving on such a holy day. This in itself is an act of identity. Even if your relationship to this day is national Bike Day somewhere in that tag is the understanding that it is a special day and set apart.

As part of prayer, Jews focus on repentance and giving charity as ways to redeem a harsh judgement as God seals our individual fates.

It is common to find charity boxes built into the walls of older Jerusalem neighborhoods - your pocket change can find many opportunities to help out the needy as you do your daily errands.

"Charity Saves from Death" © 2017 Heddy Abramowitz

And in case you miss the point, many boxes spell the deal right out: Charity Saves from Death, Charity is a Deposit Against Death. Others use a more upbeat message: For Blessings, Luck, Health and  similar positive encouragement.

Another custom is Kapara (Redemption) to symbolically give a life for a life - buying a chicken with a charitable donation and using it to make the pre-fast meal or donating to a poor family's meal. More commonly people use money as an alternative to "buy" their soul's redemption with the intent to use it for charity. The pre-holiday markets with chickens giving their all to redeem a person's soul are rapidly disappearing in the more animal rights-conscious world we live in.

"Kapara Chickens" © 2017 Heddy Abramowitz

"Redeeming a Soul" © 2017 Heddy Abramowitz

For those who wear a uniform and serve in the Israeli army, this symbolic redemption carries more immediacy.

"Soldier's Redemption" © 2017 Heddy Abramowitz
With hope that the introspection which comes with this day will bring a good result to all.

Monday, September 4, 2017

HUC-JIR Museum NY invitation

I am very pleased to invite you to the opening of HOME(less) at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum  in New York.

Please note that registration is requested for the opening: here.

You can have a sneak preview of my work on the exhibition page here, but with 70 varied artists from all over, it will surely be an interesting show and worth visiting. Opening this week September 7 at 1 West Fourth Street, 5:30-7:30 p.m. and closing late June, 2018.

To my regret I won't be at the the opening, but would love to hear from anyone who gets there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jerusalem: City of Miracles of All Sizes

Neighborhood playground (Ir Ganim- Kiryat Menachem facebook page)

Not a dry eye in the hall. Bet you’ve heard that phrase before, but how often do you really see a room full of guests sniveling collectively to keep composure at a seemingly routine family event?

Eleven years of waiting, hoping, praying for a child came to an apex at a recent brit milah in an obscure Jerusalem neighborhood synagogue.
Ir Ganim-Kiryat Menachem is best known for the culture clash between the old-timers and the newcomers. The older residents are comprised of Jewish families from Arab countries which had been forced out after centuries of living in thriving communities. In Israel’s infancy they were settled in quickly-constructed shikun (cheap public housing) buildings in the 50’s and 60’s and have since been joined by Russian immigrants who came in the big waves of aliya from the former Soviet Union. They have carefully guarded their secular lifestyles. Add into the mix immigrant families from Ethiopia with their own culture and traditions. The new faces on the blocks are the young, sincerely observant families lacking the means to choose more established religious neighborhoods. Together this makes for a tasty Salat Yisraeli with a touch of pilpel harif (hot pepper).

Both mother and father came from strongly devoted Jewish families. They married young, the click between them was fast and strong and, as their beliefs and education would presume, they expected to raise a family, much like their own large, warm, loving families.
But it just didn’t happen for them. Year after year went by, they watched as siblings gave birth to baby after blessed baby. Cousins, friends, colleagues delivered newborns one after the other, endless family gatherings centered on strollers, toys, discussions of maternity departments, then kindergartens, then schools, and they remained on the sidelines as it seemed everyone else was living their own dream but they themselves.
It is assumed that married religious couples are trying to conceive, and part of the cultural norm in religious circles is not to ask about such intimate private matters. In some circles one does not even comment on heavily pregnant bellies, to avoid any reference which may be immodest.  It is also assumed that the couple is seeking medical help to help achieve fertility, but beyond the technical treatments to conceive, what is not obvious to the outsider is the anguish they are going through as individuals, as a couple, as adult children in their respective families, and as part of their wider communities.
They felt ever more isolated, while each family event became a painful reminder and seemed to shine a spotlight on their disappointment, causing those who most loved them to be at a loss for how to help them cope. . . 

Relief came through a careful reading one Shabbat of a sheet that gets distributed in synagogues. The ad brought them to seek out Adva,  an organization started three years ago by a couple who had experienced long infertility and eventually succeeded in conceiving. Sara and Doron Befler have since devoted themselves to helping others through the difficult emotionally and physically taxing process of starting a family when the conventional ways fail.

The father credits the Beflers, saying, “They were our light in the dark. We met with other people going through the same process and discovered that we were not alone, we found people that we could share our experiences with. Other people from the neighborhood were scared to make contact with us because they did not how to handle us.”
Improving the social network for the couples is just one way Adva helps. Despite having limited resources, they are reaching out and developing projects to meet the needs of these couples.
Religious communities are accustomed to helping each other when a mother brings home a newborn.
Unlike when bringing home a baby that most realize is a stressful time, the struggles of the infertile are often privately carried and unknown to others. These couples need to expose their needs and the gaps can be closed – but only by letting people into their private pain. When exhaustion and hormones make cooking for Shabbat (or any other time) seem insurmountable, Adva finds volunteers to bring meals. They involve the parents and families in getting to know the ways that unintentional hurts can be rectified, in both directions.
Joining the Cousins Club, 11-year wait for baby on the far left. (Photo: Heddy Abramowitz)
So one bright and beautiful spring morning we gathered to share in a piece of the miracle we witnessed. And how we gathered! So many well-wishers came to welcome this long-awaited first-born son to the world, to his place in the Jerusalem sun.
A framed picture of the father’s family displayed the portraits of the now 8 generations of Jewish men that stretched back before this 8-day-old infant’s arrival, to his father, grandfather, and recently- deceased great-grandfather and so on, many in the rabbinical garb of their times as an indication of their piety.
Of the 8 Jewish men in the frame only the infant was born in Israel, the first Yerushalmi after generations of men who fervently prayed ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ as had just been repeated at the Passover seder the week of his birth.
And when the proud dad completed his first words of Torah given as a father, he turned to his wife, still uncomfortable from the C-section delivery, and said “This is the song I sang to you at our chuppah (wedding ceremony) eleven years ago and I will sing it for you again now.” The somewhat less-young chatan  (groom) sang out Chapter 128 of psalms  a capella, including the poignant words:
Your wife will be as a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. 

(see clip here for a rendition of this from a different wedding).

Even the most stoic faces in the room were wet with fresh tears.
And so it was to be. This year in Jerusalem.
This was first published on Times of Israel here and

and was re-published on Rachel Sharansky Danziger's collection Jerusalem Moments.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Jerusalem Exhibition Invitation

Very pleased to be participating in this exhibition opening tomorrow. Please do come.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Prints under Pressure - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Karl and Ise Koch Residence, Buchenwald, 2016 screenprint, 56 x76 by Gil Yefman

The old joke goes that for every two Jews there are three opinions – if not more. That well describes the state of Holocaust observance. There are no less than three different days in the calendar that are devoted to ceremonies and events marking the Nazi extermination plans to murder the Jews.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed this year on Jan 27. This marks the day that Soviet troops entered Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and liberated the inmates. Though my mother had been interred there in April 1944, by the time Soviet troops arrived she had already been sent to Theresienstadt in German-occupied Czechoslovakia and was liberated there.
In Israel, the day selected by the Israeli government for observing and commemorating the victims of the Nazis is connected to a different event. Yom Ha Shoah, Holocaust and Hero Remembrance Day as it came to be known, was intended to fall on the day marking the bitterly courageous, quixotic, and ultimately futile Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The actual date of that event was too close to the 8-day Passover holiday, so its observance was held till close thereafter, this year falling on April 23-4.
To complicate matters further, there is no consensus within the Jewish population of Israel that this is the appropriate day for observing these events. The larger secular and national religious populations observe Yom Ha Shoa, while a smaller segment of more devoutly observant (and often corresponding with those who pass on army service) choose to maintain their commemorations on the Tenth of Tevet (a few weeks ago) that marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, a period that ultimately lead to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. This day was designated by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as the general day to recite the Kaddish, the Mourner's Prayer, especially for those who had no date of death on which to do so.
Each of these days affords opportunities to reflect, to recall the non-aging faces that remain as if they are frozen in amber, to connect with the losses, and to honor those caught in the Nazi trap of evil. As mentioned here last year, there are many ways to recall and remember.
The Jerusalem Print Workshop recently mounted an exhibit, Under the Press of History, which culminated an art project of looking into days gone by. The word press in the Hebrew incorporates a double enténdre referring to pressure as well, a clever reference to the act of heavy pressure that is used to create etchings.
Six artists incorporating the past into their artwork were invited to work with the master printers of the Workshop. Illit Azoulay, Maya Zack, Merav Solomon, Gil Yefman, Moshe Roas and Ruth Schreiber created prints dealing with their understanding of “courses of history and memory processes.”
Curator Irena Gordon, in her catalogue essay, groups their work as “exploring the manner in which the past destabilizes the present.”
The exhibit stretched over the lower level gallery space and continued to the original low-ceilinged top floor, allowing observers a glimpse of the printmaking equipment and etching station along the way. The deep velvet blacks of printing inks are seductive in themselves, and the separate sets pulled the viewer into the very different approaches.
La Veritas, 2016 screenprint and photo etching 150 x 76 cm by Illit Azoulay

Illit Azoulay explored the history of the location of the Print Workshop itself through randomly distributed printing tools and detritus found on site, In her exhibit called Veritas, she searches for the truth underlying the technical aspects of printmaking. Moshe Roas created 2 sets of prints: one concentrating on the elements of an antique piano and its separate parts, and one focusing on organic plants, including dying date palm trees near Ein Gedi, resulting from sinkholes in the area. He observed that the entire history of the palm tree is incorporated in its stubbed protrusions.

Etching from Tectonic Plates.2016 various techniques, by Moshe Roas
Four of the six artists chose subject matter dealing with World War II and the Holocaust, they were of three different generations, with four approaches to confronting the past.
Spoke, Spoke 2016, etching. 29.5 x 20.5 cm by Maya Zack

Maya Zack turned her formidable drawing skills to explore Jewish-German poet Paul Celan’s post-WWII ruminations on loss and death as being something that cannot be resolved through words, but only through acts, posing a question that has no answer. Her installation of prints was exhibited in a circular layout to allude to a detective’s crime-scene investigation. She searched the breaking down of words, writing, technical aspects of writing itself as being an act of drawing, elements of the poet’s past, and the build-up of compiled details. Gordon notes that Zack dives into the
 “memories and traces of memories. . . into the obscurity of the collective history of Europe’s Jews, and into Celan’s personal family history, which tells the story of his mother and father who had been sent away to concentration camps where they were murdered.”
Notable among the works was a triptych etching, Groundwater Traces, of a high-heeled bleeding woman (Celan’s mother?) laid flat on a low-to-the-floor elevated stage etching herself over and over.  Seen in profile from above, the etching leads off the stage, connects to a desk, where there is an etching of a hand in the act of writing, returning the viewer to beginning of the investigation, the word, and so she completes the crime scene.
Post Man, from Letters from my Grandparents, 2012 38 x 56 cm by Ruth Schreiber

Ruth Schreiber, daughter of Holocaust survivors, is an artist whose works are often autobiographical. Both parents narrowly escaped the grim fate of Europe’s Jews, one having been sent as a child on the Kindertransport to England, the other sent to London by boat some time later. Both grew into adulthood parent-less and the artist grandparent-less.
Letters from my Grandparents is an artist’s book comprised of 8 screenprints, each containing fragments of handwritten letters, elements of memory, and child-like icons such as the postman who connected the far-away parent with the anxious child waiting, 

These postcards go beyond the cheery postcards sent when on an adventure abroad, they are a child’s eye-view of an adult world entered too soon, some printed in somber tones, some in candy colors but laced with raised death masks, ominous train tracks, mixed in with double-decker buses, photos of faces never to be kissed again, and last words. Schreiber traverses a high wire, balancing a rod of innocence and optimism over the abyss of senseless loss. Her reconstructions of a lost childhood are set against a backdrop of the rhythmic marks of her grandparents’ handwriting, unifying both the works and the invisible binding of the broken family. Together they describe a world gone wrong.
Illustrator Merav Solomon also invokes a child’s view in her artist’s book relating to natural catastrophe. Pompei serves as the story which combines the telling of a macabre tale told in a theater-style elongated format replete with drawn curtains, but the images shown, both real and imagined, belie the innocent setting.
Pompei #7, 2016 artist's book, etching 16 x 40 cm by Merav Salomon

Solomon also shows a second series of very simple illustrations documenting a family mystery solved through serendipitous coincidence. The Archive of the Hand of Chance series chronicles stations along a path leading Solomon’s mother to learn the fate of her own mother, Solomon’s grandmother, in a saga spanning war, time. and countries. The key to the mystery was a tube of hidden lipstick, which leads to the family’s confirmation of the grandmother’s demise and their own closure.
Eerily, I could relate Solomon’s family story to my own mother’s survival, who spoke little of her experiences, but would never leave the house without lipstick, including when being hospitalized with fatal cancer. Bluntly, she would say “If you look dead, they will treat you like dead.” I can only surmise that perhaps Solomon’s grandmother, Regina Koren, and her lipstick may have also helped my own mother survive line-ups in Auschwitz.
The youngest of the artists, Gil Yefman, created some of the most difficult images of the exhibit. While an artist-in-residence in Germany, Yefman did extensive research in the archives and concentration camps, giving him the material which aided him in creating these works.
The autobiographic aspect was also a motivator, Yefman says, “…as a transgender person, I identified with the need to examine and oppose the ‘social fall between the cracks…”
Among the works shown is an annual calendar with a twist on the pinup girl image, each screenprint includes the photo of real female German concentration and extermination camp guards, as well as the three ‘first ladies’ of the Third Reich: Klara Hitler, Eva Braun, and Magda Goebbels.
The process of printmaking is one of layering image and technique over the one before, often entailing careful planning. Here the layering is metaphorical too, the images Yefman presents are unflinching in their honest depiction of the context of the camps, the piled corpses as backdrop, the twists of grotesque victims, the contorted positions, the un-romanticized aspects of sex and voyeurism. Pasties of the Mercedes-Benz symbol points to the collaboration of the big corporations who benefited from slave labor, others confront the brothels operated to reward Nazi soldiers, a perk which brought terror and further suffering to the hundreds of women who serviced them and were voiceless.
The strong imagery and the harsh colors make this artwork defiant and confrontational. It dares the viewer to look away. The unbearableness is still a shock, no matter how much we’ve read or seen or heard.
October - Irma Grese from Time Table 2014 12 screenprints, 53 x 38 cm by Gil Yefman

The catalog notes for this last image, includes that Miss October was Irma Grese, known as “The Beautiful Beast”,"The Blonde Angel of Auschwitz”, and “The Hyena of Auschwitz”. She is presented along with Liselotte Meier, known for her hunting and killing Jews for sport in the Belarus area. Yefman shows Grese and Dr. Mengele as conjoined twins, Irma was known for her sadistic sexual tendencies and Mengele was one of her lovers. She was convicted of crimes against humanity and executed at the age of 22 and 67 days. Her last comment to the executor/hangman: “Schnell.”
Paul Celan wrote in his 1959 poem quoted in the catalogue: “Do not read any more – look! Do not look any more – go! ("The Straightening")  If he was right, by extension these artists seem to say: Do not wait any more - make! create! These artists’ works are on the right path to commemorate the traumas of the past and the preservation of personal memory as part of history.
Pressure released, pressings revealed.
Unfortunately, this exhibit has closed, but the catalogue is available for purchase. Link to the exhibit page here.
The Jerusalem Print Workshop is now participating in the Sixth Biennale for Drawing in Israel,  The Nature of Drawing / The Paper's Calling,
Opening hours:
Sun.-Thurs. 8:00-15:00
Fri. By appointment
38 Shivtei Israel St., Jerusalem 9510561, Telefax: 02-6288614

This post was originally published on Times of Israel here or