Sunday, 15 July 2018

Emmy's Album

Some pieces are just extra fun to work on because the customer is so enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm becomes infectious. This album, which I created for Emmy's Bat Mitzvah last month, was one such piece. Emmy's mum was full of ideas for the cover of her daughter's album and it was great fun discussing it with her.
Emmy loves to paint and draw, and she especially likes creating mandalas, one of which was on her Bat Mitzvah invitation. She loves her phone, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram. She likes going to the mall and shopping, she is into music, and she also studies and always has her desk in order. Emmy wanted me to include the family's toy poodle, Aish, on the cover as well. Finally, she was keen for me to show her wearing her favourite jean shorts and a white T-shirt, and her much loved white adidas sneakers with black stripes.
I have shown Emmy sitting down with Aish on her knees. She is wearing the requisite white T-shirt, jean shorts and her adidas shoes. In her hand she is holding a picture of a mandala (this was the actual mandala on Emmy's Bat Mitzvah invitation). Next to her are some headphones and some music notes. Her phone is in front of her (the screensaver is a picture of Emmy!), along with some art materials. Emmy’s name is in English at the top and בת המצווה של אמונה (Emunah's Bat Mitzvah) is below.
Emmy's album opens the Hebrew way, from right to left. The lettering is in silver and the background box black, to match the colour scheme of her Bat Mitzvah celebration. There are also black and silver flowers in two corners of the cover.
I decorated five pages inside the album. Each page has a silver flower on it, then, clockwise from the left, I showed Emmy with her friends, Emmy's phone along with the logos of all of her favourite apps, some paints, brushes, pencils and paper to illustrate her love of painting and drawing, and then a page with headphones and music notes on it. On the opening page of the album, above, I showed Emmy with her baby brother. According to her mum, "She loooooves her baby brother and is like a mom to him" so I made to sure to add the duo on the first page. Mum in fact loves this little paper illustration so much that she has saved it on her phone!
Emmy and her mum were clearly thrilled with the album I created for her Bat Mitzvah. Mum left me a wonderful review on my Facebook business page:
"The Bat Mitzvah sign in book that Lisa made for my daughter absolutely blew us away!!! She captured my daughter perfectly down to her dog, baby brother and adidas shoes!!! Thank you so much!!! Was an excellent addition to our simcha!!!"
Sunday Snap

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Koolulam at the Tower of David

Photo credit: Tali Raz

The idea of Koolulam is simply to stop everything for a few hours and just sing - together. Koolulam is a social-musical initiative aimed at bringing together people from all corners of Israel's diverse, multi-cultural society. In under an hour, participants learn a three-part arrangement of a Hebrew or English song, and then perform it for a video to be shared on social media.
Back in June I had the opportunity to join in a singalong of Bob Marley's "One Love" at Jerusalem’s Tower of David. It was an amazing experience, notwithstanding that we entered the ancient citadel at five minutes to midnight and didn't return home till around 4.30am!
Koolulam's popularity has soared since it kicked off in Tel Aviv in April 2017, with Israelis jumping at the opportunity to come together  and sing with thousands of strangers. Tickets sell out in minutes and views of the videos reach into the hundreds of thousands. When the tickets became available for the Koolulam event at Migdal David (the Tower of David), I grabbed them with both hands!
Photo credit: Tali Raz
Koolulam was founded by Ben Yefet, Michal Shahaf Shneiderman and Or Taicher. Taicher, a 33-year-old director, screenwriter and social activist, saw a video of worshippers packed into the plaza in front of the Western Wall, praying in unison and fervour on Yom Kippur. It sparked off the idea behind Koolulam: That music and creativity could be used to unite Israelis of all backgrounds, regardless of their political views or affiliations, on a mass scale.
Shneiderman takes credit for the project's catchy name. It’s a play on the English word "cool," the Hebrew word "kulam" (everyone), the Hebrew word "kol" (voice), and "kululu," the ululation sound of joy some Israelis of North African and Middle Eastern descent make at happy occasions like bar mitzvahs and weddings.
Photo credit: Tali Raz

Yefet, a talented music educator and conductor, is the musical engine behind Koolulam. He creates the arrangements for the songs, taught "One Love" to us at Migdal David in about 45 minutes, and then conducted the recording. He was fun, brimming with enthusiasm and bursting with energy. By the end, everyone was jumping up and down and smiling at the people all around them.
"One Love" was recorded on the night of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and introspection. The recording coincided with the Jerusalem visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, Secretary General of Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organisation with more than 60 million members. Staquf had seen a Koolulam video and contacted the organisation to say he was coming to Israel and wanted to be part of an interfaith social music event.
We entered the citadel of Migdal David shortly before midnight and were handed lyric sheets and divided into soprano, alto and baritone groups, before spending the next 45 minutes learning our parts.
Now this is probably the time for me to admit that I really can't sing! I loved the idea of participating in a Koolulam performance but was worried about my voice. I was reassured that the whole thing isn't really about the music or quality of the singing. With that many people, you can’t clearly hear one voice. Phew!
Yefet conducted five takes of "One Love", combining 1,000 voices, including my own rather off-key one. We sang in three languages - Arabic, Hebrew and English - along with Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups that took part in the event. The atmosphere was electric!
I must admit that I was, ahem, rather tired the following morning, when I had to be at a school end-of-year ceremony for my youngest son at 10am, but it was so worth it. What could be more exciting than a singalong in such a historic location, in a city where so many people fight for being there, in the middle of the night?
"One Love", Jerusalem, June 2018. A night to remember!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

'Mem' is for Miriam

You may remember my posts about the Hebrew letters Lamed and Hey. This time I created a papercut of the letter Mem, in this case as a teacher gift for 'Miriam'. Mem is the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the sound of "m" as in "mum". In gematria (a mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters) Mem represents the number 40. It is associated with the following: 40 days and 40 nights, 40 years in the wilderness, 40 days Moses was upon Mount Sinai, 40 days of Selichot (repentance before Rosh Hashanah) and more. The Mikvah, or Hebrew ritual immersion, must contain at least 40 seahs of water (a unit of dry measure of ancient origin used in Halakha) to be a mikvah.
As an abbreviation, Mem stands for metre. In the Israeli army it can also stand for mefaked, commander. In Hebrew religious texts, it can stand for the name of G-dMakom, the Place.
Traditionally Mem has several related meanings: "waters", "people", "nations", "languages" and "tongues". The name of the letter probably signifies water itself (the Hebrew word for water is mayim). Its most ancient forms bore a resemblance to waves of water. In Jewish mysticism it is the letter of "water", symbolising the "spring" of the Torah.
Five Hebrew letters are formed differently when they appear as the last letter of a word (these forms are sometimes called sofit forms). Mem, like Kaph, Nun, Pe, and Tzadi, has a final form, used at the end of words: its shape changes from מ‬ to ם‬. The open form is said to represent the revealed truth of G-d, whereas the closed form is said to represent the secrets.
Additionally, the Mem represents the womb - רחם (rechem) - which ends with a closed Mem. The closed Mem represents the nine months when the womb is closed. The open Mem represents the period of childbirth, when the womb is open.
My letters are available unframed. They measure 12x17cm and fit perfectly into the mount of an IKEA 18x24cm RIBBA frame. Do let me know which initial you would like me to make next.

* Jewish people do not write G‑d's name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d's name with reverence is a way to give respect to G‑d.

** This post has been shared on Wednesday around the World, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop, Wordless Wednesday Link Up{wow me} wednesday, Little Things ThursdayCreatively Crafty Link PartyShare Your Cup ThursdayAll Seasons and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Steak, Vodka and Football

Jonny has received many customised birthday cards of mine over the years. This year's birthday was the big 5-0 and his wife requested a card showing his favourite things all together. The number one thing is family, she told me, so I added a little photo of the whole family to my design. He's also a big football fan and a keen supporter of  Reading Football Club (some of you may remember this card from 2014). He likes salt and vinegar flavoured crisps, Boddingtons Bitter, chocolate biscuits and meat (though not all on the same plate!). I added the logo of the company he works for too. Finally he is a great supporter of Israel, thus the little map of our country. A big 50 and a paper portrait of the birthday boy finished the card off nicely.
Jonny seemed pleased with his card. "Thanks Lisa. Great card as usual!" he wrote on his Facebook wall.
Another customer asked me to make a card for her son. He supports Maccabi Haifa Football Club, drinks Grey Goose vodka and always has his phone nearby, she said. She also asked me to show him wearing a black V-neck T-shirt, his usual attire.
"He [Johnathan] was so chuffed with his card. He was showing it to all his friends!" she told me later.
Finally, Neill is a big Leeds United Football Club supporter and that was the theme his mum wanted for his birthday card. I cut out some tiny footballs and added the current club crest (the club was recently forced to scrap a new badge created to mark their centenary in 2019 after furious backlash from fans). Yellow stars and a blue background match the club's colours. In Leeds' first 15 years, the club kit was blue and white striped shirts, white shorts and dark blue socks. In 1934 they switched to blue and yellow halved shirts, white shorts and blue socks with yellow tops. By 1961 a plain white strip throughout was introduced, in the hope of emulating Spanish side Real Madrid. Leeds have since been known as "The Whites" due to their all-white kits.

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, Sunday Features, {nifty thrifty sunday}, Happiness is Homemade, The Good. The Random. The Fun. and Make it Pretty Monday.
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