The Twofold Power of Healing Hearts
In a world where everyone is an artist, sometimes art has a greater meaning, a deeper purpose, and is something that can unite souls across the world.
The stories of resilience, hope, and yes even the fears, of citizens of Israel continuously targeted by terror of every kind are the inspiration for an artistic expression of the feeling of connection. A connection that we share because we are one nation; a connection that we share because these acts of hatred against Jews, and Jewish rights, are no different in the land of Israel than they are anywhere else in the world, any time in history.
For five years, we have been distributing artwork to communities, hospitals, trauma organizations, and still we have a large collection of works unfinished. We even received the most incredible video from the community of Sdot Negev to whom we had gifted these works of the heart, and their appreciation was so great they made a video that still brings joy to our hearts that we could make such a meaningful impact.
The Healing Arts project of The Israel Forever Foundation took shape under the leadership of Stefie Heideman Brodsky, Arts and Education Specialist, where she welcomed into classrooms and Jewish community centers groups of all ages to come and engage with the power of healing through artistic expression.
As the missiles rained down around us again, followed by arson fires throughout the land, the project took on a unique purpose - healing the hearts of the artists themselves. Stefie’s sister, Dr. Elana Heideman, Executive Director of the Israel Forever Foundation and a single mother living in the Judean Hills with her three children, found that the idea of painting in the hope of healing the suffering of those in the south and other areas that were living in their saferooms and under incessant siren wails, was exactly what they needed to endure the ongoing sounds of war that echoed up from the valley. To think about them, to draw and paint for them, was a way of coping and keeping some inner peace in spite of the stress.
The stack of canvases soon became works of art that truly demonstrate the idea of one nation, one heart that so many of us have been saying again and again throughout the generations.
עם אחד לב אחד. Is it still true? In a world divided by political and ideological stances, the identity conflict faced by so many Jews today, and the lack of a common language through which diaspora and Israeli Jews can speak without judgment, or the competition of ego?
Somehow the simplicity of these children's drawings now completed, showcases what Jewish identity could be if we were to reclaim not only the term Zionism but the love of Zion. The love of our uniqueness as a people. The understanding and commitment to our rights as an ancient Nation with indigenous rights to our ancestral Homeland. However one practices, however one prays, however one votes.
Our nationhood need not be compromised, for it is this that saved us during the Soviet Jewry crisis. Even during the Spanish Inquisition when we read of Rabbi Aboulafia who sought out the expertise of other great leaders and communities in the land of Israel and around the world for help, for physical or emotional support. From the first exile to the Holocaust, Jews have been there for one another not because they agreed on everything but that they agreed that Jewish survival is part and parcel of our purpose as a nation.
The paintings as they emerged inspired us further. To honor the trauma centers, schools and community centers throughout Israel that take care of those who had suffered from the recent wave of terror attacks, Israel Forever has donated a special gift that includes Letters of Friendship received from around the world sharing the love and support that connects them to a place so foreign, so far away, and so embedded in conflict.
But one cannot ignore the spate of attacks taking place around the world, and therefore Israel Forever is also donating a special gift set to communities that have been targeted by hate. Every recipient receives a booklet that describes the Healing Arts program, as well as experiential learning resources that can be used, shared, and distributed throughout their communities.
We must recognize our peoplehood is what will bind future generations to our destiny. And we must recognize small efforts like these to help people feel that there is something bigger they belong to, that they are Virtual Citizens of Israel because we are one nation.
Following the great success of their I Stand With Israel profile frame, and then ProudJew Forever and ZionProud, they were astounded to see their designs were hitting a note. People wanted them to hang on the walls of their own institutions, to decorate hallways and classrooms, even one who wanted a large print to hang in her child's bedroom. And thus a new collection of Israel Forever eCards and Healing Hearts posters for personal or educational use. Jewish Pride posters and rally banners have been borne and are now available for anyone to purchase and enjoy. What an incredible way to start off the New Year - with a touch of pride in our collective Jewish heart.