Thursday, 29 October 2020

The Queen of Facebook

Sarah turned 50 at the end of August. She is a technical writer and the self-declared "Queen of Facebook", so her husband asked me for a birthday card based around those themes. Most British, or even just English speakers in Israel, will have come across Sarah's name on Facebook. I am sure she won't mind me saying that she is quite vocal there!
I decided to show Sarah sitting at her desk. Apparently she uses Facebook on her laptop and on her phone. She also never ever calls anyone and is instead a big Whatsapp user. Therefore the laptop in front of her has her Facebook profile on the screen. Another computer is displaying the Siemplify homepage, the company that she works for. The phone has Whatsapp on it. I added a big number 50 to mark her age and some colourful balloons to give the card a birthday theme.
Sarah's husband reported that the card was a "big hit!"

Monday, 26 October 2020

The Scroll of Fire and Anne Frank Memorials

The Scroll of Fire Memorial in the Jerusalem Hills commemorates the history of the Jewish people from the Holocaust up to the Six-Day War. It is located in the Martyrs Forest which is the single largest memorial to the Holocaust in the world. The forest is comprised of six million trees which were planted in 1951. Four and half million pine trees represent the adults who perished in the Holocaust, while a million and a half cypress trees account for the children who perished.
The memorial, Megilat Ha'esh in Hebrew, was inaugurated in 1971. It is the work of Warsaw-born Nathan Rapoport, himself a Holocaust survivor. He is known for his famous sculpture in Warsaw commemorating the Ghetto Uprising, an exact copy of which is also featured at Yad Vashem. Other sculptures can be found at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, as well as around the world.
The Scroll of Fire Memorial is made of bronze and is eight metres high. It is in the shape of two scrolls. The scroll on the right focuses on the Holocaust and its survivors, while the scroll on the left deals with the struggle to establish a new homeland and Israel's independence. In the space between the two scrolls there are two  memorial rooms. In each one is engraved a quote from the bible, above.
On the right scroll one can see Jews being marched off to the concentration camps. Above them are figures devoid of faces. Only their helmets and bayonets show that they are Nazis, the idea being that their horrific acts wiped away their humanity and therefore they cannot be portrayed in full human form. Next, the Warsaw Ghetto is seen with its flames and the defenders of the ghetto, an angel bearing a Molotov cocktail and a bearded man bearing a rock, are clearly visible. A mother and child can be seen ascending to the heavens in flames. This scroll ends with survivors of the camps seen leaving with their eyes raised in hope. A small boat represents the thousands who came to Israel in the pre-State days, during the clandestine immigration era. An olive tree with branches formed from human bodies represents renewal. The central branch is depicted in a fetal position, epitomising the idea that even in the midst of destruction a new life/nation can be formed.
In the scroll on the left the symbols of the wandering Jew, a walking stick and a sack, are left behind, since the wandering is over and the Jew has reached his homeland. A man can be seen blowing a shofar near the Western Wall, while a child is holding a cluster of grapes, one of the Seven Species with which Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, was endowed. A pregnant woman depicts the next generation that will be born into freedom. Finally, the reunification of Jerusalem is depicted by a menorah, carried by a group of soldiers. This menorah is symbolic of the menorah from the Arch of Titus in Rome, which commemorated Roman suppression of the Jewish revolt. A small bearded man that supports the menorah is representative of the Prophet Elijah and the sculptor's apparent belief in divine intervention. 
The memorial stands on a wide platform overlooking the coastal plain. It was restored in recent years and the site was made accessible to people with physical limitations.
In the same forest stands an extraordinary project in memory of the a German-Dutch diarist Anne Frank (1929-1945). Anne hid in Amsterdam with her family during the German occupation of the Netherlands and died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Between 1942 to 1944 she documented her life in hiding in her diary. Miep Gies, a family friend, found Anne's diary and gave it to her father, Otto Frank, after the war. It became one of the most widely read books in the world.
Anne could see a chestnut tree through the window of her family's hideout. The tree, which is mentioned many times in her diary, was one of Amsterdam's oldest chestnut trees. In 2005 it was diagnosed with a disease. When municipal authorities wanted to cut it down, community members, tree experts and the staff of Bomenstichting (the Dutch national tree foundation) mobilised. The tree was fitted with a metal support structure but ultimately fell in a storm in 2010. Friends of JNF (Jewish National Fund) in Holland initiated a project to commemorate Anne Frank and the tree in Israel.
The memorial includes several sculptural elements, all of which are significant. There is a circular route studded with quotes from Anne's diary translated into Hebrew and a very large cube representing the room where she hid from the Nazis with her family. The cube has three transparent sides, and the fourth is a tree with pentagonal leaves representing the chestnut tree. In a corner across from the tree there is an uncomfortably high seat. When you sit on it you feel like a child sitting on a high chair. The viewing experience is meant to recreate the feeling of imprisonment, isolation and discomfort, while looking longingly through a window at the world outside.
The memorial was created by the Dutch Jewish sculptor and Holocaust survivor, Piet Cohen. Like Anne Frank, he was hidden in a house in southern Holland and was not discovered. He later served in the Israel Defence Forces.
The nearby Martyrs Cave (B'nai B'rith Cave), above, is a natural cave that was expanded in order to serve as a site for reflection and remembrance of those who died in the Holocaust. In front of the cave there is a plaza and nearby there is a small recreation area with tables and benches which attracts many visitors throughout the year. To the left of the cave are steps that lead to the top of the mountain where the Scroll of Fire stands.
Every year on Holocaust Day, JNF and B'nai B'rith hold a memorial ceremony in this forest.


Thursday, 22 October 2020

20 Years and 50 Years

The couple on this card celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary back in August. The "bride" sent me a favourite photo from their wedding which I recreated in paper. I carefully matched the purple flowers in her bouquet and the little details in her hair. The couple are set against a background of the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, as they were in their wedding photo. A big number 20 marks the number of years they have been married.
My customer told me that her husband loved the card!
This card was made for some parents who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The 50th wedding anniversary is known as the "golden anniversary". The historic origins of wedding anniversaries date back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands crowned their wives with a silver wreath, garland or necklace on their 25th anniversary, and a gold wreath on the 50th.
I created a card with a big gold "50 Years" on it and added some golden flowers as well. My customer asked me to include a map of England and a map of Israel on the card, with a plane flying between them. She declared the card "fabulous!"

Monday, 19 October 2020


My cousin's daughter, my first cousin once removed, celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in November last year. Unfortunately, since we live on different continents, we were unable to be with her to mark the occasion. As luck would have it, the whole family were coming to Israel this summer. I could give the Bat Mitzvah girl her gift in person instead. Of course that didn't happen! Instead, the papercut I created for Lily went in the mail and, 53 excruciating days later, it finally arrived at its final destination!
Lily's Bat Mitzvah ceremony was held outdoors, in a California park, and the invitation to the celebrations had a beautiful illustration of trees on it. I used the celebrations and Lily's love of nature, together with her name as inspiration for the papercut. I put her name in the centre and added leaves, ferns, flowers and my signature little bird. The papercut measures 10x8 inches.
Lily's mum told me that she loves purple so that's what I ultimately decided upon for the backing paper. I was delighted to hear that she absolutely loves her gift. Maybe, just maybe, I will get to see it in situ one day!
JENerally Informed