Announcements

Thank you to Kol HaOt for inviting me to be Artist-in-Residence at their beautiful space in Jerusalem's Artists Colony, Khutzot ha Yotzer from November 12-December 11, 2017. Gallery Talk will take place Saturday night, December 30, 2017, 8 pm, when I will speak on "Not Child's Play: Marking Memories and Loss," discussing my works using paper dolls created there.

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. Continuing until the end of January 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. Would love to hear from you if you get to see the exhibit. For details see post

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Bi-Polar Reaction to Sukkot


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"Sukkot Pilgrims, Coming and Going" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
I don’t know if my reaction to Sukkot is clinically bi-polar or not, but there ought to be a way to describe my erratic mood-swings as this week-long holiday approaches.

The anticipation buoys me up, thinking of the preparations underway, the hauling out of decorations made when hands were oh-so-much-smaller, the warm memories of past holidays, I’m all smiles. I love this chag (holiday).

Reality in the Jewish Quarter is what swings my mood the other way, anticipating being at the center of a human onslaught as it seems the entire world is clogging up my streets, making the simplest of errands a Mission Impossible. My shoulders become locked into permanent tension, the bubbling anger rising in me as the strategies of coming and going becomes an escalating theater of the absurd.  I hate this chag.

And so it has gone for many years, living life in the middle of the Jewish Magic Kingdom, but without the E-Z planned access of a corporate resort. Sukkot, a pilgrimage holiday with biblical origins, requires every Jew to visit the Temple in Jerusalem. Not so sure David and Solomon were thinking park ‘n’ ride or rapid transit.

It takes a rugged individualist to live in the Jewish Quarter, and, much like life in Israel overall, it is the intangible and inexplicable that tips how one feels about living here. This is a unique place, unlike any other. That is the compensation for the counter-intuition that bypasses inconveniences which come with this piece of real estate. Indeed, after the Jewish Quarter, everywhere else is Poughkeepsie.

In the spirit of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em,” I created this video clip to illustrate a bit of the enormously varied crowds that visit the Old City during this week. I found it valuable to turn my camera on the throngs, see them as individuals rather than invaders, and found myself truly marveling at the diversity of the people who value this pilgrimage in our day and age.

It makes me like totally Zen with the holiday, without meds.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gJ3BvKqBROo
"Sukkot: See and Be Seen" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally published on Times of Israel here or

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/my-bi-polar-reaction-to-sukkot/

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Looking Out, Looking In: Seaside Reflections for the New Year


"Fishing at Dawn" © 2013 by  Heddy Abramowitz

A view of the sea was mine for a month, but vacation did not win me that pleasure. Family health issues brought me out of my normal environment to a seaside refuge, an apartment on loan in Haifa’s Bat Galim neighborhood, easy walking distance to Rambam Hospital. This chesed (an act of selfless kindness) and countless other such acts large and small, gave me a new slant on Blanche DuBois’ words, when unexpectedly, I found myself depending on the “kindness of strangers”(Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire).

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"Samsonov House 1921" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
Bat Galim, Hebrew for “daughter of the waves,” is a neighborhood founded in the early 1920’s, sandwiched between train lines and ocean, with the rise of the Carmel mountain providing a muted backdrop of pine trees to balance the brilliant aqua of the sea. It also reflects the mix of the north, with Jews from every background, Arabs, and Druse taking walks or jogging on the promenade hugging the ocean, though Russian was the predominant language heard. This comfortable mélange was also apparent in the hospital mini-mall and waiting rooms, where families gathered while visiting their relatives, making the accusation of apartheid laughable.
"Bulletin Board, Bat Galim" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Bulletin Board, Bat Galim" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz


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"Samsonov House Balcony" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
Though the sauna-like humidity was a constant, a cooling breeze off the waves provided relief. It was also a relief be in a zone still under-exploited for commercial purposes, nary a corporate franchise was present. The reasons for that lapse include a hornet’s nest of social, preservation, and planning issues ranging from proposals for a marina to ones for high rises. There is still time to explore this low-key spot before the developers take over.
"Shutters Bat Galim" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz

"Shutters Bat Galim" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz

There was a mix of structures from different periods: older Templer-style and Bauhaus ones with arched windows, those with crumbling stucco walls and flaking wooden shutters eaten by the salty air, alongside brutally utilitarian apartment blocks. The neighborhood post office never had a line longer than one – and that was just poor timing.

"Mirrored Windows" ©2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Mirrored Windows" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
Windows are of great interest to me, they serve as a both a defender of what is within and an opening to expand outwards, bringing the outside in.   That thought accompanied me as I returned to Jerusalem, where pre-holiday preparations were in full swing.

"Apartment Block" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Apartment Block" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
The contrasts to my sojourn in Bat Galim could not be more striking. Going from an endless unobstructed horizon continuing to lands unseen, I came home to the alleyways of the Jewish Quarter, where glimpses of sky are treasured.

"Beachfront Shell" c.2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Beachfront Shell" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz

The Jewish Quarter has in recent years become a focus of tour groups who visit to conduct “selichot tours” in the lead-up to Rosh Ha Shana, the Jewish New Year, a time when observant Jews of the Sefardi tradition conduct penitent prayers at dawn complete with shofar blowing for a full month. The Ashkenazi Jews limit this tradition to the night following the Shabbat before the holiday for that week. Whichever the tradition, the observant are in preparations for the somber two days of self-examination that is at the center of Rosh Ha Shana.
"Sun Umbrellas" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Sun Umbrellas"  © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz

The easy-going and skimpy beach-side wear is nowhere to be found. Instead of oppressive humidity, the dry Jerusalem air seems a bit chilly, a welcome re-discovery. Clothing reflects this: for the religious it is a question of modesty, for the secular, it is common sense.

The nature-ordered schedules of surfers, wind-sailors, dawn to dusk sun-worshipers, and fishermen, are replaced by the devoted Jerusalemites who keep to their prayer schedules; the Jews seek out synagogues three times a day, the muezzin calls out five times a day, and the church bells chime the hours as they pass. Both lifestyles share an order and devotion to something greater than themselves.

"Beach Walkers" c. 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
"Beach Strollers" © 2013 by Heddy Abramowitz
The rhythmic pounding of the waves have come home with me and will remind me that people, essentially, have the capacity for wonderful acts of kindness, which I saw in so many ways over the long period leading up to and including the last month, relatives, friends and strangers alike.

With much gratitude, best wishes for continued health, and peace in the New Year.

This post was originally published on The Times of Israel here or:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/looking-out-looking-in-seaside-reflections-for-the-new-year/