January 31, 2007
January 30, 2007
I am pleased to learn that I have been named Featured Artist of the Week on the new and improved hip Jewish online publication, Jewcy.com. I am honored to join the ranks of other Jewcy Artists, including Jon Burgerman and Dan Witz.
See more Jewcy Featured Artists here.
See more Jewcy Featured Artists here.
January 23, 2007
Last week I attended the release party and benefit for Mezuzah, the first book in The Jewish Life Series at the Downtown Chabbad Loft in Manhattan. Gary Sternberg (left), who has been working on the project and foundation for several years, explains,
The Jewish Life Series is dedicated to making Jewish living and knowledge accessible to Jews worldwide through cutting-edge, graphically excellent websites, books, and advertising. Topics include Jewish beliefs, observances, holidays, and kabbalah.
The book is of extraordinary quality, with colorful illustrations and glossy raised print, and the topic is explained in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. You can support The Jewish Life Series Foundation by visiting their web site.
(right) Jewish Robot and The Shansta always seem to be at these events, hmm ...
January 22, 2007
You may have noticed a missing comic strip and lack of blog posts in the last few days. That's because I'm finally back in Brooklyn, and after three weeks abroad, I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. Aside from taking a lot of photographs and fond memories back with me, I also brought along something else: a fantastic case of TD. I'm not sure when I contracted the bug, or which microorganism is suddenly making life in the bathroom such a colorful experience, but after a feverish 12-hour ride home and six days in the can, it became serious enough to visit the doctor, who, after providing a very thorough examination, has put me on two powerful antibiotics. They seem to be doing the job, as I am able to type this post in one sitting.
During my last few days in Jerusalem, I had the pleasure of attending a PresenTense Magazine salon about Israel and the Diaspora. Believe it or not, we finally came up with definitive, absolute answers to all the big questions, such as "Who is a Jew?", and "What is the Diaspora's role concerning Israel?" But the fellow who took all the notes for the discussion got drunk on pomegranate wine, stumbled into the Christian Quarter of the Old City, and was never to be seen again.
Speaking of the Old City, I also got a wonderful tour of the Muslim Quarter by my knowledgable friend, Aharaon Horwitz, who knew all the nooks and crannies of that daunting neighborhood.
On my last night in Jerusalem Aryeh and I met up with notorious Mobius for dinner. I had the Jerusalem Mix, which, after having been introduced to Jerusalem life, may have been the point when Jersualem life was literally introduced into me.
Israel was the trip of my life, but I'm happy to be back, and looking forward to getting back into business and making this the Year of the Cartoon.
Coming soon, cartoons!
January 17, 2007
January 14, 2007
When I was in Israel in the summer, we missed out on going to Tzfat, as the city was being hit by Katyusha rockets while we were driving there! So it was a fortuitous occasion when Lindsay invited me and my freewheeling ROI120 friend, Aaron Small, to come up with her to the Livnot campus in Tzfat for a night. We took the bus up from Jerusalem for a beautiful scenic drive, and got to hang out with the young Livnot participants for the next twenty-four hours. They were an enthusiastic bunch who treated us like one of the family. Our temporary home was The Cave, and there we dwelled as cavemen, awaiting our hiking adventure and other cave-manly things.
After our overnight stay in Tzfat, we hitched a ride with the Livnot group back to Jerusalem. Along the way we stopped at a kibbutz where we were treated to fresh dates and raisins, and a sunset view that was simply breathtaking. I would like to thank Lindsay and the entire Livnot 184 group for making us feel so welcome, and feeding us, and housing us, and chafufeuring us, and massaging us, and cleaning our socks and underwear.
January 13, 2007
Leading Up North is also the second trip that I roomed with J-webmaster extraordinaire, Aryeh Goldsmith, known for his J-domain domination, matched only by his prowess with the J-ladies.
At times it felt like Aryeh and I were a real-life enactment of my Shabot 6000 series: two blokes with different Jewish upbringings and levels of observance, living together as roommates and somehow finding a harmonious balance of spirituality and religion. If you are familiar with my characters, Shabot and Moti (yes, he has a name!), then you know their dynamic involves a recurring role-reversal in which irreverant robot and pious man exhibit each other's expected behavior. Such has been the case with me and Aryeh, an experience which has already served fodder for many a future Shabot comic strip.
Mr. and Mrs. Goldsmith, you've raised a fine boy!
January 4, 2007 was the tenth and last day of our Leading Up North trip. As we left the K'far Giladi Guest House for the last time, some of us heading back home, others staying in Israel for more traveling, I reflected on my personal experience over the last 10 days, and came to a simple conclusion: Leading Up North was the best trip I have ever been on! Every detail, from our balcony view of our hotel (pictured left) to the new friends I got to know and the old friends I got to know better, fills me with happiness.
When I came to Israel in the summer of 2006 for the ROI120 conference, I didn't have a chance to visit the north because the sky was falling. So for me, LUN marks the continuation of a journey that was cut short by unfortunate circumstances. It is ironic that those unfortunate circumstances were the very reason I was able to return to this wonderful country. But I'm not complaining.
I'd like to thank Lynn Schusterman of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation for making Leading Up North possible. They gave us the greatest gift ever, which is the ability to give a gift to someone else.
Coming soon, my impromptu trip to Tzfat with Livnot Lindsay and Urban Eskimo Aaron Small
January 12, 2007
January 3, 2007: After a day of celebration and seed sowing, we stopped back at the school where we had learned our street performance skills to entertain the children. I dressed as a gypsy snake charmer (pictured left) and played my recorder flute as Citrin popped out of her Basket of Mystery, catching passers-by off guard to give the kids a thrill. Instead of a snake, we improvised with a plush puppy doll. You'd think that wouldn't be scary, but you'd be surprised to see how many kids crapped their pants when Michelle jumped out and shouted, "Boker Tov!"
After enough kids had crapped their pants, we headed over to the hanger for the Festival B'Shekel. The empty hanger offered the perfect venue, accommodating a few thousand audience members, street performers (including my roommie Aryeh, who I've nicknamed "Boycan" ... as in "Boycan Juggle", see photo left), food vendors, merchants, and a large stage for the musical performances. Participating in the festival was a wonderful way to end our ten-day Leading Up North experience.
January 11, 2007
On January 3, 2007, we started our last day of Leading Up North with a convergence of all 500 white sweatshirted LUN participants, including Hillel, JCS, and ROI/Kivun/Charlies, filling an auditorium with cheer and enthusiasm (and one exhausted Jewish Robot). After the celebration, we were all bussed to Qiryat Shemona where we queued in droves to plant saplings on the mountainside. The celebration continued with speeches from the mayor, thanks from LUN sponser Lynn Schusterman, music and dancing.
Coming next, Festival B'Shekel ...
January 08, 2007
After cutting down some charred conifers on our second to last day Up North, our ROI/Kivun/Charlie LUN group were taken to an elementary school where we were met by a team of professional clowns (really, they were quite serious) who trained us in the art of street performance so we could participate in the Festival B'Shekel concert. We were divided into groups of stilt-walkers and jugglers (see Aryeh's amazing juggling video, pictured left), street mimes, drummers, costume designers, and set designers. I took to the stilts like a short jew in the ultimate platform shoes, but after considering the likelihood of rambunctions Israeli kids trying to knock me down to their level, I went with the clowning.
After a day of carnival training, we went to dinner for a round of rousing, self-congratulatory speeches. We left full of food, beer, and ourselves.
After bird watching in the morning, we headed to an area of woodland where the trees had been burned by Katyusha rockets during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Our job was to cut down all the charred pine trees, which are not native to the area, so that the hillside could be cleared and prepared for forestation. We were all given small hacksaws, fine for the small brush, but hardly adequate for the larger trees. It took me, Loren, and Aryeh about a half hour to cut down one tree with a mere six-inch diamter! Looking back on this service, I realize just how impractical it was to do the job without a chainsaw, but as with most of the Leading Up North initiative, our show of support counted more than any quantifiable result. I think it took our team of 40 about two hours to cut down a dozen small trees. Hardly a dent in the forest, our blood, sweat and tears (I cried when Aryeh continuously demonstrated the "effect of wind on trees") will clear the way for saplings of emotional and spiritual support from the diaspora.
Later this day, we become carnies! ...
After a late night of celebration with the Leading Up North team, we eased into the New Year with a tour of Hulah Valley, an agricultural region in northern Israel known for its wetlands and nature reserve where a bounty of bird species can be observed. Our friendly tour guide (pictured left) took us on a relaxing caravan ride through the swamps, where we witnessed the migration of thousands upon thousands of crane. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it really was an amazing sight, as these birds with six-foot wingspans flocked around us, taking off in massive waves of grey as they became startled.
Later this day, LUN cuts down burned trees ...