A Heart For Art
Metro Detroiters support the work of struggling Israeli artists
as congregational sisterhoods sponsor shows.
Special to the Jewish News
he war in Iraq has special
meaning for Israeli brothers
David and Dan Saidan.
They trace their family his-
tory to Baghdad, where ancestors lived
some 150 years ago before migrating
to Ispahan in Persia (now Iran).
Their forebears traveled on foot,
donkey and camel while carrying
seven Torahs written by Baghdad rab-
bis. The Saidans established them-
selves in their new country and
financed and built the first synagogue
in Ispahan, where they placed the
sacred scrolls. To this day, the Torahs
can be seen in their silver and carved
wood cases in that synagogue.
The Saidans opened a grocery shop
in Iran and were successful until anti-
Jewish attitudes led to the declaration
that the store was impure and officials
closed it down. The family next oper-
ated a jewelry and antiques business
until that was confiscated.
While some relatives still live in
Ispahan, David and Dan's family
decided to flee in 1990. With the help
of Jewish agencies, they traveled
through Pakistan and Switzerland and
found refuge in Israel.
After working various jobs, family
members opened a jewelry and Judaica
store in Jerusalem and were doing well
until the arrival of the current intifada
(Palestinean uprising), which curtailed
tourists and business. Unlike their
ancestors, who had to move to new
locations, David and Dan, of David &
Dan Jerusalem Judaica, hope to find
commercial outlets through their com-
While their store is like so many
other Israeli art centers generally
remaining empty of touring cus-
tomers, David and Dan are accessing
art fairs in the United States through
e-mail communications. Among their
sponsors are the sisterhoods of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield and Temple Israel in West
The Temple Israel
Sisterhood Art Fair 2003
runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday and Monday, May
4 and 5. The Shaarey
Woman's World 2003 takes
place 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7, and
also will feature a lunch-
"We have friends in
Michigan, and they knew
about us," Dan explains.
"We are so glad to be part
of these shows."
The two sisterhoods,
while arranging separate
fund-raising projects, decided to pool
resources for their respective exhibits
and sales and include as many Israelis
as possible in both events. In addition
to sharing artists and vendors, they
also are setting up housing accommo-
conjunction with the other groups,
they also will be showcasing Israeli art
and artists for their Flint Shopping
Expo scheduled 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday, May 4.
dations through their memberships-so
that the travelers won't have to pay for
hotel rooms and will have places to
stay between events.
Although members of Flint's Beth
Israel Sisterhood are not working in
"We have heard so many sad stories
from artists who want to be part of
our programs, and we couldn't say,
`no,'" says Carol Lynn Cooper, co-
chair of fine arts at Temple Israel with
Lynn Apel. "We are using every bit of
temple space to accommodate them,
and we are getting only quality work."
With more than 20 artists coming
from Israel and showing their talents
side-by-side with American artists,
shoppers can select from Judaica,
paintings, jewelry, fabrics and many
other media. Prices range from $18 for
lithographs to thousands of dollars for
metal ritual pieces.
Israeli artist uses images, words to depict life during the intifiida.
Washington Jewish Week
s it possible to understand the spirit of Israelis —
their hopes and fears and how they are cop-
ing — as the intifada grinds on in its third
year of suicide bombings and shootings?
I suspect not, because living under constant,
albeit statistically small, danger is too foreign to the
lives of most American Jews.
But the book State of SiegeUsers Manual] (Gefen
Publishing Co.; $24.95) — a series of images and
words created by Doron Goldenberg, a graduate of the
Bezalel art school in Jerusalem — at least provides an
interesting picture of life in the shadow of terrorism.
The images in the book look at matzav ("the situa-
tion") from a wide range of perspectives — from a map
of the world graphically depicting the Jewish state's basic
problem, little Israel in blue surrounded by a huge mass
of red Arab and Muslim countries running across North
Africa through the Middle East all the way to Pakistan;
to an X-ray of a terrorism victim showing a nail embed-
ded in the head; to political graffiti (from the right,
"Peres is a war criminal," "Leftists are a cancer in the
nation's heart," and from the left, "Occupation=Terror,"
"Sharon: Promised peace, brought anoth-
er war"); to stills of Israeli TV announc-
ers reporting yet another attack.
Artist Goldenberg writes in his "Note"
in the beginning of the book that much of
what he portrays "may appear gloomy,"
but "life here in Israel continues in a rela-
tively normal way, despite the tension.
Israelis go to work, school, the beach, the
shops, and they go about their business,
just like people- in any other country."
That may explain the two-page photo in the beginning
of the book of empty plastic soft-drink bottles in a huge
bin waiting to be recycled.
State of Siege was published in conjunction with Israel
at Heart, a nonprofit seeking to promote a better under-
standing of Israel and its people. ❑