“I wish there will be peace in the world….”

” Shalom From Akron”- Working in Dalit’s Studio

We worked with 6th graders from the school in Regba. The students were polite, very hard-working, and lots of fun. After explaining the project, they came up with their own designs for the border to go all the way around the design. I showed them all the panels and messages from our kids  in Akron and Dalit showed them how to  break the tiles and glue them on the mesh. Janice helped everyone with everything !!! While  we worked they sang Beatles songs in perfect English!!! They incorporated lettering saying “we love you”  and peace and the Israeli flag. I made a part of the border that said ” Shalom from Akron!!! .”Also helping were Stephanie, the Israeli jewelry artist, Sharon, the glass artist from Toledo.

Tuesday ,we were allowed to tour all day !! First we stopped at a Druze village on the way to Sfat.  It was very interesting to see Arabs living quietly and peacefully in this village. Sfat was beautiful and really came to life with the explanations of our guide Elan.
They only allowed us one hour to shop !!I

Janice and I met with Stephanie’s ( the Israeli metal artist) Mother this morning to talk about the quilt. She is a  vibrant  and talented Tunisian woman who loves to do embroidery and all kinds of art. We all realized where Stephanie’s talent comes from . She welcomed us to her home,of course offering us food and drink, and we talked about how she will finish the quilt and get it ready to hang in the community center. She is going to embroider all the handmade flowers and leaves.
Ronit ( our guide) translated all the messages fromthe Israelis to share with Akron .
One girl wrote this on the quilt ” I wish there will be peace in the world and that everyone will make music, and play together everywhere with friends and girlfriends and that there will never be war and that everyone will be healthy and live in a beautiful world”

After meeting with Dalit, we finished our work in the studio and prepared supplies for the installation. Our afternoon was spent touring the Kibbutz Cabri and the Etching Center and a Sculptors Atelier.

Gesher Ha Ziv and Dalit and the famous Israeli tennis player we didn’t see…..

Our quilt at the fence Festival was a great success!!! What a wonderful day ! Hundreds of people came to this festival at the Kibbutz GesherHaziv. Janice and I worked in the chicken coop that had other great craft projects for kids. Paper mache, woodworking and recycled art projects. The quilt was hung on the wall and our guide and caretaker Ronit and her daughter helped explain our project  to everyone in Hebrew. The kids were beautiful and the parents were very helpful.  The Israeli parents love to sit and work with their kids on projects.  It’s not at all like the USA where parents drop their kids off to have lessons and be entertained. Grandmothers, mothers, fathers, babies… everyone came  and worked together.We don’t know how many people particpated but it was 2:30 before we even sat down to take a breath. The crowds kept growing and growing and some kids stayed for over and hour  to sew, glue, bead and write messages. The flowers and leaves came out beautiful and each child came up to the quilt and showed us where to put their flower. They will have some women who are quilters sew everything together and then hang the quilt in the community center in Acco where our mosaic will be. The day was beyond all our expectations and everyone said our project was the highlightof the festival!!!
The most moving part of the day was having Ronit translate all the messages the kids wrote with their parents. Almost all included mesages for the safe release and return of the 19 year old Israeli soldier from Nahariya who was captured in 2006. It brings everything about Israel into perspective.

Sunday was a really, really long day. We started at Dalit’s studio. Everywhere you looked were mosaic sculptures, decorations, tables, benches, plants, flowers and color. Located on a kibbutz overlooking the beautiful hills of the Galilee, we talked about how to incorporate our 12 mosaic pieces from our children in Akron. We worked back and forth with ideas on a  large piece of paper and came up with a 6 ft by 10 foot format for our mural to be located on the outdoor wall at the Mate Asher Community Center. We worked with another Israeli artist who works in metal and a glass artist from Toledo who makes glass beads. We incorporated their work into the mosaic too. Tomorrow the leaders of the Partnership , the kids, and all of us will be in the studio working. The kids from the school will create a border around the whole piece to tie it all together. So it will be an exciting day.
We another grand lunch overlooking the Mediteranean , then went off to hike around Rosh Hanikra which is a kibbutz on the Lebanon border. RIGHT ON the border so we had an armed guard with us. They had a cable car take us to see a breathtaking view of the cliffs and the ocean. Many schoolchildren were there too. No signs of any trouble like we see on US news .We had about 10 minutes to change shoes and wash our faces before we had to go to a celebration of the grand opening of the tennis courts of Acco where we ALMOST got to see some  Israeli Tennis star who is 15th in the world. Well you can only imagine how exhausted hungry and tired we all were .

The mayor of Acco was there and a Hasidic Rabbi of Acco who put up the mezzuzah and speeches and speeches and where’s the tennis player already????? We took a vote and left because the school for the arts had prepared  a lovely dinner and presentation for us. We were treated to a violin concert by a 16 yr oldand a 10 yr old , two modern dance selections  and  musician named DUDU, who gave  a drum workshop. We all followed his beat on beautiful African  Drums. It really helped our sore hands from all the tile cracking we had done in the morning. Luckily we got into the cab back to the hotel that knew the way to our hotel. The other 3 people had an Arab cab driver that got lost. Ours just tried to convince us that Barack Obama was a Muslim. As tired as I was, I still had the energy to argue with him !!!

Shalom from Nahariya

We had a wonderful first day of touring Acco, meeting the other 6 artists and preparing our ” fence festival” project for tomorrow.
The people are all wonderful. We have our own guide to take care of our every need and then also the staff from the partnership is making sure we are feasting on wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Last night we met Dalit ( the mosaic artist) and teachers and the principle from the school for the arts and had dinner in a restaurant owned by the cultural director of Acco. I don’t know what we ate but it was all delicious.  Early this morning we toured Acco with our own guide who was an art history major and went to the most amazing synagogue with mosaics from floor to ceiling representing every biblical, historical, and cultural aspect of Judaism. I just wanted them to leave me there so I could drink it all in. It took my breath away. The man in charge of the synagogue looked exactly like Uncle Simon! All of the marble and stone came from a nearby kibbutz. After another fabulous lunch we went to Kibutz Gesher Ha Ziv to hang the quilt Janice created for tomorrow’s festival. We are working with the children in a refashioned chicken coop to make soft sculpture flowers to hang on the quilt. It looked great and everyone was so delighted to see the pictures of our Akron kids on the quilt.Tonight is shabbat dinner at one of the Israeli artists house. I will try to send some pictures tomorrow.Janice is really enjoying everything too.We both feel like kids in a candy shop to be able to see everything from an artistic perpective

Not the kind of papercut that hurts!

It’s a Jewish papercut for a Ketubah, a Jewish wedding contract that is signed before the wedding ceremony. This colorful, joyous design reflects the personalities and unique interests of the  wonderful bride and groom. It was created using  many layers of hand cut archival papers, handmade papers, gold leaf, acrylic paints and hand written Hebrew and English calligraphy. It is an emotional and meditative experience to create such a personal and meaningful document and this one is filled with interesting  symbolism.

This brightly colored design grew from the rich and interesting background story of this couple.  The Jerusalem imagery is featured prominently because that is where the couple met and shared their first food together ; a fig cookie which is  featured in the top right and bottom left.

They both purchased the same poster of a Klimt painting which was reproduced for their wedding invitation. The flower details from that painting are scattered across the top right. The favorite flower of the groom’s mother of blessed memory was the sunflower. The state birds of Oregon and Massachusetts   are featured to represent the bride and groom’s backgrounds.

At the bottom of the design is graphic representation of Mt. Kilamanjaro and the ocean to represent the various interesting and challenging trips the couple has taken together.

The concept of ” tikkun olam”( repairing the world)  and  the creation of a Jewish home are represented at the bottom right of the papercut ketubah.

The couple love bright colors and they collect an African folk art fabric called Kaross cloth. The background of the kaross cloth has a vibrant textured background which I tried to replicate in certain areas of the  papercut background.

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May 2 , Planting for Peace

The ” Planting for Peace” community Lag B’ omer  program was a great success. All who attended had a meaningful and educational experience thanks to our wonderful volunteers. I was proud to be a member of our caring and thoughtful  Beth El Congregation.

May 2   Garden Dedication Remarks

The theme for today is Planting.


We are not only planting seeds in our community garden to help others but we are also planting kindness in our actions by working peacefully together.


We are making ourselves more aware of people less fortunate than we are.


We are planting awareness of our environment and making  making our world a better place to live.


We are growing food for the hungry; we are recycling to save our environment; we are knitting blankets to keep families warm; we are creating beautiful artwork to send to halfway around the world where people’s lives are not always peaceful.


This community garden inspired a mosaic art project called “Planting for Peace.”   This project gives us the opportunity to share artwork with people of the Western Galilee region of Israel in our sister city of Acco.

Our artwork and our messages of peace help us share kind thoughts and beautiful artwork in a part of the world where kindness between people is not always evident.


Our Torah teaches us to “Love your neighbor as yourself”


It is starting right here. It is starting with just one person reaching out to another. We are planting the seeds for a better world.

We are Planting for Peace


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Garden Art with Jewish Roots

IMG_0326 Gan HaOr Plant signs (1)

“Beth El is a Synagogue that is growing- literally”
( that’s what a recent article in the Cleveland Jewish News says about us!)

It’s hard to believe how much has happened at Beth El since February. Just a casual comment at a lunch with friends has turned into an amazing, revitalizing phenomenon called “‘Gan ha’Or”, Beth El’s Community “Garden of Light”. With the  incredible perseverance of Ellen Botnick, Andrea Steinberger and a crew of talented dedicated volunteers , the garden is coming to life. The beds are built, filled with rich  soil and planted with a few  early crops. More planting will be done in May.

Now it’s my turn to add some garden art with Jewish roots, of course ! I’m told we’re the first Synagogue to have a community garden in Northeast Ohio and I’m guessing we’re the first community garden anywhere with Hebrew and English plant markers.

Dick Rossen made all the wooden plant markers with  recycled wood from the exisitng play structure that was located in the garden area. He routed out all the English lettering and I  painted the Hebrew words. The Academy students will be painting and decorating the signs next week. The confirmation class is helping make the mosaic sign to hang in the garden as their class gift.

http://www.ohio.com/news/92648294.html Check out the Akron Beacon Journal article about the garden

Finding Inspiration

Walking a child down the aisle for a wedding is a highpoint in every parent’s life. Until you’ve actually experienced it, you can’t imagine what it feels like .Watching a child grow up to be a good, kind and happy person and find a soul mate to share life with is an extraordinary blessing and I had the added joy of being able to create the ketubah for the occasion. It was a true labor of love and I enjoyed every second of the process.

Since this was my first ketubah, I had to practice for weeks to perfect my Hebrew Calligraphy skills. This was something I’ve always wanted to attempt. Ever since my first calligraphy class in college, with master calligrapher, Arnold Bank, I’ve had a passion for calligraphy. It’s  kind of a lost art today and that’s a real shame. The computer can never replicate the tactile joy of feeling, seeing, smelling and hearing ink glide over a fine handmade paper.

I remembered the lessons of my first calligraphy class in college. Professor Bank would walk by every student’s drawing table correcting your posture, making sure your feet were flat on the floor, and coaxing you to sit perfectly straight. If you weren’t holding the pen correctly, he’d whack his huge metal T-square on your drawing table and scare you to death. It wasn’t unusual for a student to run out of class crying.

All of Professor Bank’s lessons helped me learn the art of Hebrew calligraphy . Only after many many weeks of practice,was I  confident enough in my lettering skills to be able to begin the design for the ketubah.

Finding my inspiration for a project isn’t always easy, but for this ketubah, the ideas flowed easily. Just seeing my son and future daughter-in- law together was an inspiration. They share their love of Judaism, tradition,family, and travel and I tried to capture their essence in the ketubah design using eighteen different symbols in an intricate Jewish papercut.

There’s a tradition to leave one letter unfinished , to be completed when the ketubah is signed prior to the wedding ceremony. What a moment that was for me. My eyes were so filled with tears of joy , I could barely see to draw that final letter.

The memory of that moment is the inspiration for my next project. Another ketubah for another wonderful couple. I’m so excited to begin the process and I look forward to sharing it. 

Another Installation Adventure

” It really looks like it belongs here. ”  That’s what one of the congregants said to me when the installation of my artwork was complete.That’s the best compliment anyone can give me. The donor wall was designed to enhance the entryway of Ahavath Torah Synagogue in Englewood, New Jersey and to honor the generous people who made the beautiful new building possible. The colors looked beautiful in the lobby and the gold and glass mosaics really sparkled in the natural light from the glass entryway.

Randy and the crew from Welch Architectural Signage did a fantastic job of installing the artwork.It went up quickly with only a few areas that had to be adjusted because of the slight curve in the wall. Randy did an outstanding job of positioning the tiles to cover the seams and filling in all the screw holes. We finished ahead of schedule  allowing enough time to stop for a real New Jersey Kosher Corned Beef Sandwich for the trip home.

No matter how many times we’ve done this and no matter how much I try to plan for every situation, there are always suprises. It’s very rewarding to get a chance to meet new people and see their faces when the artwork goes up. It’s always an adventure!


“And they came, every man whose heart raised him up and whose spirit lifted him, and brought the offering to G-d”

The quote chosen for the Ahavath Torah Donor Wall is found in the Torah portion describing the building of the Mishkan designated to be the dwelling place of G-d on earth. “Let them build me a sanctuary that I might dwell among them”.

A stylized Menorah with seven branches spreads over the donor names like a tent.  This recalls that the Mishkan is called “The Tent of Meeting”. The golden branches of the Menorah come together and reach down to the ground. At the center of the Menorah there is a golden stamp replicating an ancient depiction of the Ark of the Covenant (mosaic from the 6th Century, Beth Shean).

The six days of creation are abstractly portrayed between the branches of the Menorah, suggesting the Rabbinic interpretations connecting    G-d’s creation of the universe with man’s creation of the Mishkan (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:13)*.

The rays of scarlet, purple, blue, gold, silver and bronze radiating downward from the Menorah represent the details of the Mishkan as described in the Torah. Pieces of mirror will be used along with handmade tiles and glass mosaic to recall the women’s generous donation of their mirrors for the Mishkan furnishings.

This artwork fulfills the commandment of hiddur mitzvah just as the Jews at Mt. Sinai did as they built the Mishkan.

Through my artwork, I  humbly attempt to portray a spark of the spirit of the Jews at Mt. Sinai.  It is an honor to present this artwork to inspire and recognize congregants of Ahavath Torah. It is my hope and prayer that this artwork will highlight the lessons of the Mishkan and “lift the spirits” of those who have so generously donated to the congregation.

A Studio Tradition


It’s hard to let go of  artwork that I’ve labored over for months. Once it’s shipped and  installed in another location, I almost  never see it again.  When I  started creating large installtions, I  began a tradition of  baking some of my favorite recipes and inviting a few friends  to my studio to take a look at the finished artwork before it leaves.

One very nice friend  said ” I truly do not know which is the bigger draw, for us to see your art work or eat your carrot cake!”

The wonderful support  of friends and family helps alleviate my” separation anxiety.”

And of course carrot cake helps too.

Temple Beth El


This Donor Recognition Wall was commissioned by Temple Beth El of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It’s 13 panels symbolize the idea that many different people come together to form a congregation. Hand-sculpted tiles and luminous recycled glass mosaics illustrate Jacob’s Ladder.