Art of Acheinu: Israel as a Family
אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל
הַנְּתוּנִים בַּצָּרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה
הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה
הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם
וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה
הָשָׁתָא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב
Our brothers, the whole house of Israel,
who are in distress and captivity,
whether they are found over sea or over dry land --
May the Omnipresent have mercy on them,
and bring them from distress to comfort,
from darkness to light,
from slavery to redemption,
now, swiftly, and soon.
And let us say: Amen.
The words of this ancient prayer have given Jews throughout the generations strength and a sense of belonging, inspiring the idea that we are one people, connected by the thread of faith and destiny.
Recited after the reading of the Torah each week, it has become a song sung in any time of trouble - a way to overcome the despair and fear, the pain and darkness, our unity as the House of Israel will continue to sustain us alongside our faith in Hashem.
Danya Halperin poured her connection into designing and creating this incredible piece of art following the tragedy on Har Meron in 2021.
I created this piece for a student-made publication honoring the memory of Donny Morris, z”l. At the time of the Meron tragedy, the confusion and pain experienced by my fellow seminary students and the global Jewish community were overwhelming. A feeling of powerlessness created a deep-seated craving for healing through action: to do something — anything — that could help us focus our thoughts and comprehend our reality at the time.
I could not describe in words the devastation I witnessed and felt at Donny’s funeral, but this painting was my attempt to express myself through art. The focal point of the piece is a depiction of the yeshiva students at the funeral and how they clung to each other for support, crying and embracing as if they were the only ones there. The faces in the background represent the crowd at the funeral — the larger Jewish community — sharing in the pain and being present in their support. Finally, the Hebrew text is the words to the song Acheinu — Our Brothers. This is the song we broke out into time and time again over the course of that week to express our togetherness in this tragedy and our unification as a people in support of those most affected by Donny’s death. Acheinu is a tangible representation of hope, a message that says that, as long as we’re together, we can get through anything.
CREATE YOUR OWN ACHEINU ARTWORK
Pour your connection into a personal expression borne from the power of our collective heart.
- Select an event in Jewish history, a story of someone you were inspired by from among the many experiences of Am Yisrael.
Many might automatically choose the Holocaust, but we encourage you to think of ancient Jewish experiences, real life events that happened to Jews in Eretz Yisrael or wherever they lived in the world. What kind of community feeling have you gained from these stories? What moment of connection might you be able to pull out from your imagination?
- With paper and pencil, or paintbrush and canvas in front of you, Close your eyes and imagine the person, the situation, the background.
- Allow your hand to pick one point on the canvas even before you open your eyes, and to make the first line of your drawing.
- Open your eyes when you feel ready, and allow your mind to translate the thoughts in your head into art on the page.
Consider incorporating the words of Acheinu, in Hebrew, in English, or whatever language speaks from your heart.
Whatever colors you choose, or just the soft etchings of a pencil, the emerging art is an expression of your inner connection with a fellow Jew, somewhere in time, somewhere in the world.