Wednesday, 29 May 2019

It literally looks like him!

A fellow member of the Facebook group IWEN, which stands for Israeli Women Entrepreneurs' Network, contacted me and asked me to make a special card for her son's 18th birthday. His interests over the years have included Minecraft, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and whittling, she told me. She also sent me a photograph of her son so that I could get his goatee just right.
I was asked to include all of her son's interests on his card, plus the number 18 to mark his age. It was a special birthday and "we are so grateful to reach this day. Thank you for helping us do it in style." she wrote to me.
I have shown her son, goatee and all, whittling a piece of wood. I made sure to include his black kippa (skullcap) and showed him wearing the very same green T-shirt he was wearing in the photograph my customer sent me. To his right is a green Minecraft Creeper (yes, I just looked that up!) and some Dungeons & Dragons dice (I knew about those because my son was once into it). On his left are some random Magic: The Gathering cards. Apparently he has quite a collection. I added the logos of these three brands on the card too.
I was more than delighted to read this post by my customer in the IWEN group some days later:
"I need to sing out my praises for Lisa Isaacs!
Yesterday was my son's 18th birthday, and for those of you who don't know, he's been through a LOT of scary medical stuff, and his 18th birthday needed to be CELEBRATED!
Not only did Lisa create a portrait that literally looks like him (!) but I forgot to tell her what to include until last minute, and she did a rush job, AND she found a shaliach
[messenger] to bring it to me in Beit Shemesh (thank you, C.!)
Creative genius plus customer service that went above and beyond - I cannot recommend Lisa highly enough!"

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Three Different Stages of Service

Remember the 25th wedding anniversary cards I made for this couple last year? Well, they both came back to me once again, as they so loyally do, this time to mark 26 years. Fortunately they requested very different cards.
The first card I created was based on a photo sent to me by the wife. The couple's twin sons and their daughter are all currently serving in the Israeli army. Gabi, on the left, has almost finished his 3 years of compulsory service. Adi, in the middle, is in the middle of his service and Ella, on the right, has just been drafted. The photo mum sent me, shown below, was taken at Ammunition Hill, Givat Hatachmoshet, on the day Ella went in.
The Hebrew words on this photo say, from right to left, "The one that's joining", "The one that's inside" and "The one that's on the way out".
Mum wanted me to make the three different stages of service that her children are in very clear, so I changed the poses ever so slightly so that it looks like Gabi, on the left, is walking away or leaving. Mum was keen for me to show Ella with her big bag on her back with all her army stuff.
"Thanks Lisa for the amazing cards as always!" she wrote on Facebook, whilst a friend of the couple wrote "Wow such a cool recreation of the photo."
Her husband asked me to make a card showing his wife drinking a glass of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey, with the Shabbat candles in the background. It seems she is rather partial to the stuff! "Happy 26th Anniversary" he asked me to write on the card and then "!לחיים".
לחיים, or L'Chaim, is a toast meaning "to life". A celebration with family and friends to mark a special occasion is often called a l'chaim.
Hebrew letters are also used as numerals and the Hebrew letters that spell "chai", life, also stand for the number 18. The letter Het (ח) has a value of 8 and the Yud (י) has a value of 10.  Thus, 18 is considered a lucky number in Jewish culture. It is common to give gifts and contributions to charity in multiples of 18, symbolically giving the recipient the gift of "life" or luck.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

30 Years and in the Spotlight

A lady contacted me with a request for a pearl wedding card to mark her daughter and son-in-law's 30th wedding anniversary. She gave me a little background information about the couple. Her daughter is a lawyer but also a singer. Apparently she sings in classical choirs both in Israel and abroad. Her husband is a psychologist. She asked me to include some music notes and a microphone on the card, and a book and newspaper design for the psychologist. I included a law book for the lawyer as well.
The Hebrew greeting on the card wishes the couple Mazal Tov - literally meaning "good luck", though the phrase is used to express "congratulations" - on their special anniversary.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Sarah Sussman of the 'Judaica in the Spotlight' online art magazine to see if I would like to be interviewed for the arts section. I was delighted to be asked and was happy to answer the questions she subsequently sent me.
Sarah wanted to know what inspired me to become an artist and what my speciality is. She wanted to know how and where I work, what the most indispensable item in my studio is, and from where I take my inspiration. She asked me about my favourite items in my current collection and about the first artwork I ever sold.
The interview went live on 'Judaica in the Spotlight' in March. For those of you who may not have seen the feature yet, please do pop by and "read all about it" here. I hope that you enjoy learning a little bit more about me, my work and my inspirations.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Shuk Dash

Remember the Yemin Moshe Windmill Dash and the Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and Nachalot Scavenger Hunts that I have participated in over the years? Well, Tali Kaplinsky Tarlow, the driving force behind Israel ScaVentures, once again invited me, along with an awesome group of bloggers and social media influencers, to try out the new ScaVentures Shuk Dash app (shuk is the Hebrew word for market) at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.
The app, which you can either download or use ScaVentures pre-loaded tablets, gives you the opportunity to explore the shuk as part of a team. Each team competes to buy and sell something, pose with a fish and find someone from Morocco, among many other missions, within a set time. The dash is not a history lesson. We didn't have a guide nor was there even that much time to stop and look around, never mind take photos (thanks to my teammates for allowing me to use some of their shots). This was a morning of competitive fun! After a brief explanation about the Shuk Dash from Tali, we were tasked with getting to know the people of the market - vendors and shoppers alike - and to hear their stories. It was a full on morning of entertainment, definitely suited to the more outgoing among us. We looked for signs, asked questions, tasted food and generally had a good time together! 
Photo credit: Israel ScaVentures
Photo credit: Ingrid Muller Photography
Photo credit: Robin Epstein, Around the Island Photography

Now, since I am a bit of a history buff, I am going to include a little bit about the market in this post. The Mahane Yehuda market is the largest market in Jerusalem with over 250 vendors selling everything from fruit and vegetables to speciality foods, and clothing to Judaica. The market is a great way to experience a traditional Middle Eastern style shuk, with its fascinating array of sounds, sights and smells.
Mahane Yehuda, which is open every day apart from Shabbat and is particularly busy on Thursdays and Friday mornings, is set between two streets, with two main aisles and then many further small walkways once inside. Just a ten minute walk from the centre of Jerusalem, the market is a fascinating place to stroll whether you are interested just in observing the magnificent sculpted displays of spices and mouthwatering array of foods, or if you want to get involved in real-market buying, negotiating and tasting. In recent years, the shuk has emerged a centre for Jerusalem nightlife, with restaurants, bars and live music. After the Shuk Dash I went with a couple of friends to eat a delicious lunch at Crave, one of the newest culinary fixtures in the market.
Photo credit: Robin Epstein, Around the Island Photography
Photo credit: Robin Epstein, Around the Island Photography

The neighbourhood of Mahane Yehuda was established in 1887 by three business partners - Johannes Frutiger (a German Protestant and owner of the largest bank in Palestine), Shalom Konstrum, and Joseph Navon. It was named after Navon's brother, Yehuda. The newly established neighbourhood of Beit Ya'akov stood nearby. At the end of the 19th century a marketplace known as Shuk Beit Ya'akov was established on an empty lot to the east of the neighbourhood. Here Arab merchants and fellaheen sold their goods to the residents who lived outside the Old City. As the new neighbourhoods outside the Old City grew, the Beit Ya'akov market grew apace with more stalls, tents and pavilions.
Under Ottoman rule, the market expanded haphazardly and sanitary conditions worsened. In the late 1920s, the British Mandate authorities cleared out all the merchants and built permanent stalls and roofing. Afterwards the market began to be known as the Mahane Yehuda market, after the larger of the two neighbourhoods.
In 1931 a new section was built to the west of the market by 20 traders who previously had only temporary wooden stalls in the area. It was later named the Iraqi Market, as many traders of Iraqi Jewish descent acquired shops there.
In the 2000s major renovations were made to the Mahane Yehuda market. A number of trendy shops and cafés began appearing among the market's retail stalls. Non-Middle Eastern restaurants currently include eateries such as "Pasta Basta," specialising in Italian pasta dishes, "Fish and Chips," one, if not the only fish and chips bar in Jerusalem, and "Ha'Agas 1," a vegetarian restaurant.
The shuk also hosts special events like the "Ba LaBasta" happening in 2011, which brought in huge crowds. Guided shopping and cooking tours are aimed at attracting culinary tourists. Also in 2011, the city-sponsored project "Tabula Rasa" (Blank Slate) saw artists being recruited from schools of art and photography in the city to decorate the walls, metal shutters, concrete surfaces and even the rubbish bins of the market.
The market's mixture of shops and restaurants, which includes both kosher and halal establishments, attract residents and tourists, Israelis from Jerusalem and other parts of the country, rich and poor, young and old, religious and secular, Jews and non-Jews, including members of the Arab community. An estimated 200,000 people visit the shuk weekly.
Before each Jewish festivals thousands of shoppers shop in the market for foods based on different holiday traditions: everything from pomegranates, dates, lulavs and etrogs, and assorted honey to fish heads.
Sadly Mahane Yehuda was a target for terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada. On 30th July 1997, 16 people were killed and 178 wounded in two consecutive suicide bombings, then in 
2002 a female suicide bomber detonated at the entrance to the market, killing 6 and injuring 104. The market was heavily guarded for years afterwards.
Back to the Shuk Dash. Israel ScaVentures have Scavenger Hunts all around the country, including Jaffa, Safed, Zikhron Ya'akov and more. The Shuk Dash, whilst definitely being more interactive than educational, was great fun and was a terrific way to see and get to know the market.
Tali runs ScaVentures throughout the year. If you want to get in touch with her and join in for yourselves, you can contact her here.

* This post has been shared on All Seasons, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Our World Tuesday, Tuesday's Treasures, Travel Tuesday, The Wednesday Link Up and My Corner of the World.