Chazak, Jim!..


First published in The Times of Israel –

There are some people whose life is a novel, a movie, and it comes effortlessly and naturally because it is just the way they are. 

Late General James M.Hutches, a beacon of light and assuredness, was just like that. If somebody would mention a semblance of my first phrase to Jim, he would laugh it off instantly, and he meant it. But in fact, so many episodes of his long life are worth a book of its own, with several of them written, that it is really hard to believe that all these episodes belong to the life of just one person. 

Late Brig. General, the US Army James M. Hutchens. Courtesy ©: The Jerusalem Connection and The Rogatchi Foundation. 

His incredible service in Vietnam where he fought so bravely, being rewarded two Bronze Stars and one Purple Heart for his exemplary service to his country and his countrymen. His tireless work in support of Israel which he did for decades, devoted, efficient, noble. His fight against terrorism both in Israel and in the USA. 

Opening ceremony of Michael Rogatchi’s Year 1953 painting at the Laogai Museum, with General Jim Hutchens and Pat Hutchens in the centre. Washington D.C., February 2013. Courtesy ©: The Rogatchi Archive. 

They all were deeds of the man with a great vision. Jim did know exactly what he is doing  – or not doing , and where he gets involved – or not so, and why. The clarity of his vision was remarkable in the times of so many compromises of all sorts, and prevailing political correctness all around. And that clarity was reassuring in an honest, pure, curing way. The way many of us miss nowadays, increasingly so. The assuredness of  Good Forces that emanated from Jim during his lifetime was magnetic. And healing.  

It is what is expected largely from the servant of God which Jim was. But in his case, it was 101% true. No false, no pretension, no supposition, no suggestion. Reverend Hutchens was the man of organic goodness. 

It took me some while to start to comprehend how to write about Jim in the past tense. He was always there – for us, for his friends, for his family, for Israel. He was limitlessly generous in providing his presence and availability to us all. He became the factor of stability of hope, light, supportive action, and assuredness. 

I am writing a tribute to this remarkable man on his birthday, imagine. Jim would be 87 today. He passed away just five days before his 87th birthday, being weakened to the defining degree by the last 18 months of probably the most difficult period in his life.   Due to the covid restrictions, he was confined within the four walls of the place where he lived this last period of his life. That confinement was heart-breaking for all who knew and loved the brave General. 

* * * 

Jim and his wife, artist Pat Hutchens who passed away in April 2014, were dear and close friends of my husband Michael’s and myself. Very dear and very close friends. A family, in many senses of the word. We were blessed with this family-like friendship for over twenty years. 

Inna and Michael Rogatchis with Pat and Jim Hutchens at the concert of Felix Menhelshon’s Elijah at the Kennedy Centre. February 2021. Courtesy ©: The Rogatchi Archive. 

It was during one of my frequent visits to Washington D.C. while advising some senior MEPs and participating in the work of the key foreign policy bodies of the European Parliament that I was speaking at an important US forum on the Middle East policies as an invited guest speaker when I have noticed a special figure and special face in the audience. In that fully packed audience that face and the reactions of that man on what I was saying were distinct in the most positive way. 

He came to talk with me after my speech, and we have become instant friends. Next morning, Jim and I continued to talk over breakfast at my hotel , and during that talk I had to reschedule the rest of the day of my tightly planned program full of meetings, because both Jim and I just absolutely  needed to talk more, and more, and more. It was a gift of friendship from the first sight. 

Immediately after that rewarding encounter, Jim’s wife Pat, well-known artist and theologist ( as Jim himself) and my husband artist Michael joined our family-like unit, and from that moment over twenty years ago, it was a celebration of trust, compassion, solidarity, understanding, sharing, and support. 

It was the family of the real American hero who was passionate about Israel where they did live for several years in the 1970s, and who did everything in their power to make this passion constructive. This was a truly rare attitude against so many challenges on their way, always. But not for once, their belief was not flinching for an inch. Israel and Jewish people have had staunch, selfless and very noble supporters as long as Pat and Jim Hutchens were living in this world. 

Both Jim and Pat have decided to convert to Judaism at a certain stage of their lives, and till her end, Pat always signed her messages to us as Yael, her Jewish name, and Jim as Yaakov. He had a good command of Hebrew, as well. That essential change in their both’ lives turned to be dramatic and complicated, by the serious fault and ungraceful misunderstanding of the others, without a slightest sign of their both’ fault. What was amazing for Michael and myself always, was a total absence of bitterness in Jim and Pat after that incredibly traumatic experience. And their unwavering, encompassing love of Israel and Jewish people. 

The one of the most stunning human deeds in support of Israel was Jim’s personal undertake of buying the remnants of the bus exploded by the terrorists in Tel-Aviv – and organising the shipping of the remnants of that bus all the way to Washington DC, installing this screaming evidence of the anti-Israel terror in the front of the Capitol, conducting many extraordinary rallies and events next to the bus there, thus really influencing and essentially helping the acceptance of  several resolutions of the US Congress and Senate essential for the Israel’s struggle against terror on its soil.  

Being an undisputed hero of the United States, being justly respected widely and highly, the former Deputy Chaplain of the US Army Brig. General James M. Hutchens spent a colossal amount of his time in his tireless practical everyday hard work supporting Israel. Myriads of the Israeli officials who were tasked with various important and often quite uneasy tasks knew that they could rely fully on General Hutchens who acted in quite unusual way. 

When help was needed, Jim was not relying on a casual and sporadic telephone call. He was personally coming with the persons who needed support to all and every office at the Capitol Hill to make sure that the people from Israel would be heard, understood, and assisted. There was no better and more reliable man in the huge DC pool of senior influencers for Israelis than General Hutchens – who never failed to support Israel in anything he was addressed on, from the required political support to the serious, high-up and discreet resolving of truly tricky problems, as the one with the anti-Israeli flotillas. 

He never, ever did it for a penny. I know about it in detail. He did it out of love, and his principles. That love was rooted deeply in both Jim and his wife, artist Pat who was the person who undertook a very demanding personal journey back to the Holocaust realities creating her famous by now Auschwizt Album Re-Visited series

I was privileged to witness the process as it was evolving, worked on this project of her life with Pat, and wrote about it, with huge gratitude. 

We were seeing each other regularly and often, not only in the States. When Jim and Pat were coming to Poland, with the Auschwitz Album Re-Visited exhibition which was the first show of those so very special images outside the US, and more, at the close proximity to the place of the actual actions depicted in the original monstrous Auschwitz Album put into the human and moral questioning context by brave Pat Hutchens, I flew over to Krakow specifically to be there with both of them during that uneasy and challenging experience. 

Inna Rogatchi with Pat and Jim Hutchens at the Auschwitz Album Re-Visited first European exhibition, Krakow, Poland, 2012. Courtesy: © The Rogatchi Archive.  

Later on, I curated and organised several of the exhibitions of those incredibly important artworks in various European countries. 

The generosity of both Jim and Pat Hutchens was legendary. Seeing them in so many various circumstances, at their home and while travelling, at the special events and during a casual walks, in the morning and in the evening, with telephone ringing often in their truly hospitable and open, inviting home, I was often thinking that those are the people who were born to help to others. But I knew that what has become such a natural way of life for both Jim and Pat, was rooted in their deepest conviction, crystal-clear understanding of right and wrong, and stern principles. Plus – two golden hearts which were as one, due to their fantastic love, respect and admiration for each other. They both have become true guardians of many. So many people love them, and always will. 

* * * 

There is no wonder that when The Rogatchi Foundation decided to introduce a Life Achievement Family Award to the range of our annual Humanist of the Year Awards, our Board and the International Advisory Board unanimously voted for Jim and Pat ( posthumously) Hutchens as the recipients of it. The wonder was the timing. 

As it happened, a warm and enlightening ceremony of the Award in Virginia in early March 2020 was the very last public event attended by General James M. Hutchens in his long, heroic, fantastic, exemplary, rare life. All three of Jim and Pat’s children were there, along with many friends and colleagues. It was also the very last time when Jim was among the people, not by himself.

I flew to the US specifically for that occasion, without knowing that it would be the last time that I will be seeing Jim in person, but with absolute clear inner understanding that the ceremony must be done now. At the moment, I had no clue of the reasoning behind that strong push inside myself to accomplish the ceremony of awarding Jim as soon as possible. Now I know. When I was leaving the Ronald Reigan airport, flying back from Washington DC, I was flying from an already completely empty space. When I landed home, the era of covid pandemic had started. 

Our mutual friend who was very kindly and devotedly visiting Jim all the time during his covid-caused confinement whenever it was possible, was seeing our brave general a week before his passing in his sleep. The general was weak, life was leaving him slowly but steadily. He was in and out of conscience, dreaming and waking in turns. Amy, our friend, was sitting next to Jim at the moment when he was in between that all the time prolonging dream and consciousness. Jim was saying something, Amy understood. That something was ‘Yahweh’. 

I was both surprised and not. Because, for many years now, I remember the episode in which Jim played a very special role. The one of the towering figures of American Jewry, the person who contributed enormously much into the active support of Israel during all his life, was battling the vicious cancer for a few years. At a certain point, he was close to losing the battle. Jim, who was a good friend and colleague of that man, was visiting him in hospital regularly and often. 

Once, the man had asked Jim, the Reverend, to promise him something. “Please, stay with me during that moment, Jim. Nobody else, but you. Promise me that it will be you”. For three last hours in that great Jewish man’s life Jim Hutchens was the person who held the hand of the dying Jewish fighter reciting all proper Jewish prayers with and for him. ‘Chazak, my friend, chazak”, – Jim was saying to his passing friend. “Chazak” – was the last word, with the smile, of the man whose purpose in life was the safety of Israel and legacy of Ze’ev Zhabotinsky. 

* * * *

When one’s parents are leaving this world, it is part of us leaving. When one’s siblings are leaving, it is the same. When one’s relatives are leaving, our world cracks and crumbles. When one’s friends are leaving, our own personal world gets holes in it, the holes which are unrepairable. And then, there are the people, the giants of men, who were protecting you, supporting you, helping you, listening to you, understanding you, comforting you, all this without any pomposity, humbly, modestly, organically, cordially, with needed pitches of humour, always, and that good laughs together. People who understood you without words, and whose unassuming but steady love and unquestionable loyalty was your blessing and protection, your shield. When such people who are extremely rare in one’s life are leaving this world, after a paralysis of an instinctive non-belief in what has happened, you start to understand what it means to be orphaned. 

It is not only Michael and I who lost a dear friend. It is Israel which has lost a great and loving supporter, Yaakov ben Abraham, with the passing of real American hero General James M. Hutchens. We hope that his memory will be long and fruitfully lasting. 

July 18, 2021

© Inna Rogatchi

Shavuot Under Fire

Michael Rogatchi (C). Strength of Love. Oil on canvas. 120 x 100 cm. 2016. Zion Waltz series.

Art as an Instrument of Conscience

It was supposed to be an extraordinary Shavuot, from the matter of its incredible numerology and its meaning. This year the Shavuot marks the 3333d anniversary of the pivotal moment in the history of mankind, the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. 

Any educated person, believer or not, knows what the inside knowledge and moral code of the Torah means in the history of human civilisation. Many different from Judaism faiths are based on their adoption of a serious part of the Torah postulates. In civil life, many cardinal principles of functioning of society and state in its universal application comes from the Torah. The basic of security as a concept, the basic of the army as organised defence comes from the Torah. The principles of police and policing as an organised system of establishing and maintaining order comes from the Torah. The legal and juridical system in its entirety comes from the Torah. 

The moral code of a human being  comes from the Torah and applies to anyone on this planet. This is without going into the depth and incredible richness of knowledge laying literally in every letter, not even a word or a phrase of the Torah. Michael Rogatchi (C). Under the Jerusalem Skies. Oil on canvas. 110 x 90 cm. 2016. Zion Waltz series.

So we were supposed to celebrate this unique Shavuot with this extremely special 3333 figure of its date these days. As it is known widely, number three, 3, is a corn-stone of Judaic thinking. It is not without a reason that we have three Patriarchs, that Noah had three sons, that we have three written in the Torah main religious holidays. It is also not without a reason that Moses had been ascending to the Sinai three times, and that the Jewish people after liberating themselves from slavery, had been instructed to prepare for receiving the Torah for three days. 

Number three has a fundamental meaning. It is the foot-print of logic and completion. We live in the past, present and future, having three dimensions of time. Our life process unfolds in three stages: birth, life and passing. Any process in nature, and any process as such has three stages: beginning, middle, and the end. In geometry, the science loved by our sages because of its indisputable logic, it is namely a triangle that provides the most stable form, construction and shape. It is not without a reason that the symbol of the State of Israel has two triangles intertwined. Our Magen David is about many things, but it is also about in-deconstructability. Just saying. Michael Rogatchi (C). Strength of Love. Oil on canvas. 120 x 100 cm. 2016. Zion Waltz series.

In these days, all this we will celebrate multiplied in four times, in four -fold strength, being privileged to live at the time of the three thousand three hundred and thirty third time and year of celebrating the most distinct moment in the history of our people, the giving the Torah. 

This year the celebration is marred with worries and anxiousness. We are strong, largely thanks to our Torah, even for those who would not like to think this way, it is in the Jewish genes, luckily. But we are under fire. We are attacked by vicious Hamas terrorists, but we are not weak, neither are we shaken. Inna Rogatchi (C). Gog & Magog I. Hidden Windows series. Watercolour, oil pastel, wax pastel, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2020.

This year, we are witnessing unheard of pogroms inside the state of Israel. We hope that this would be dealt with as it should, to eradicate the slightest possibility of this outrage on Israeli soil ever. We are misread and mistreated by utterly hypocritical international media in their ever shameful and untreatable anti-Semitism, open and hidden alike. Nothing changed with this respect whatsoever from the 1930s, global-wise. We are mentored by those mumbling international leaders who really do not believe a word of what they are pronouncing as rather pathetic mannequins, with a very small exception of a few openly sympathising and supporting Israel countries.  We are mistreated by all those international bodies and organisations. All of them have become a parody of itself and common sense, utterly useless conglomerates of self-imposed self-importance. 

We are attacked outside Israel as well, massively so, at those outrageous permitted, allowed, non-confronted massive rallies of racist hate in London, Paris, Los-Angeles, The Hague, you name it. As unprovoked Hamas terrorist attacks would not be allowed against any other country in the world, the same insult of the State of Israel in all those places washed with raving hatred, would not be permitted against any other country in the world. Utter shame to all and every government at all those places, visible places in the world, who did permit it and did not stop it. These things do count. If people who chose not to act, facing all those anti-Israel rallies and vandal acts world-wide, would be able to think, they would realise that their non-action is and will be accountable. But we are living at the time of spineless hypocrites primarily, with rare fortunate exceptions, who will be coming down to history as pathetic nobodies. 

It is not an easy, smooth, peaceful Shavuot filled with honey, blintzes and serenity. The Shavuot 5781, in our 3333d celebration of receiving our moral code and trove of knowledge is marked with density and sadness. 

Still, we will celebrate, not brainlessly, but very much counter to that. We will celebrate our gratitude for being so uniquely privileged to get the Torah, our code of survival. To be a part of our great people. To have an amazing country which was, is and will amaze the world in all possible directions. 

The Rabbinic tradition tells that on the Shavuot, and only then, the skies open up, and the unique communication can have a place if we are attentive enough. It is a special moment for interconnection, for actual, real-time self-inspection. The one of my artworks reflects on this distinctive moment of the Shavuot. Inna Rogatchi (C). Shavuot Window I. Watercolour, oil pastel, wax pastel, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 40 x 50 cm. 2020.

The other artwork in this examination of art as an instrument of consciousness is by my husband. This Michael’s well-known artwork from his series on the Jewish heritage points very clearly on the principal, un-muddled distinction between right and wrong – as it stays in civilised life, as it comes from our Torah.Michael Rogatchi (C). Shema, Israel!… Oil on canvas. 76 x 66 cm. 2003. Daily Miracles series.

Chag Shavuot Sameach. 

The Feeling of Jerusalem

Previously published in The Times of Israel –, as well as in Tribune Juive ( Paris, France), and The Jerusalem Connection Report ( Washington D.C., the USA).

Jerusalem in artworks of Inna and Michael Rogatchi.

The energy of these stones has provided the nourishment for many generations of the Jewish people, for all those who keep Jerusalem in their hearts as the nucleus of their universe.

There is no other sensation in the world like the one felt when one’s hand is touching those warm, wise stones, the stones which are speaking to you, one to one. Inna Rogatchi (C). The Thread of Jerusalem. Fine art photography. Limited Edition. 2015.

When we had visited Jerusalem for the first time in the  beginning of the 1990s, we were trembling in excitement and disbelief at being on Israeli soil.

The most powerful sensation that I’ve had at the time was losing the sense of time. I felt as if the city had been kept above the earth and held upward by a superior power. It was a very distinct magnetism, gentle, but extremely firm. Most importantly, time has no power over it. I also was stricken by the the gentleness of the air around us, that unique Jerusalem gaze, those tones of gentle blue and rose and shimmering beige being melted into that one and only aired, flying colour of Jerusalem. If colours can fly, it happens at this very place. 

The Feeling of Jerusalem is the sort of a sensation which transforms into conviction.

As a matter of fact, Jerusalem, to me, has never been a city – it is the Place. The unique, blessed Place of unparalleled, re-assuring power and magnetism. The source of strength and hope. The place which is upheld by the ultimate power. The Talmud provides a straightforward explanation for this: “Eternity – this refers to Jerusalem” ( Berachot 58a). Inna Rogatchi (C). The cloud of Glory. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel, perle le blanc on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2013-2020.

The Wonders of the Tunnels

Later on, exploring the Temple Tunnel, we were extremely privileged to be at the place which is just ninety metres from the Holy of Holies. The place which is the holiest one for the Jewish observant people, is quite simple but appropriately adorned. It is a place for praying, with many praying books around, a few chairs, and a couple of rows of seats. Everything there is unpretentiously gracious and just incredibly calm.

I always think that we, people, are so small staying next to the solid parts of the Wall which are 55 and 45 thousand tons of weight each, correspondingly. But as small as we are next to these stones, we do feel their warmth – which is wondrous given the fact that they are staying erect from the Second Temple period, and are under the level of earth for thousands of years by now.

In the Tunnel, one can also see the place where the Kotel really ends, and one realises, happily, that the Kotel – and our strength emanated and sustained by it –  is substantially longer than the visible part, those precious 87,5 metres of the Wall at the Temple Plaza today.Inna Rogatchi (C). Giant of the Wall. The Temple Tunnel. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel, perle d’or on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2014-2020.

Among the wonders of the Tunnel, we can also see the part of the authentic, original street from the Second Temple period, – and one just close of losing one’s mind trying to comprehend that we are able to touch and to be present among the stones which were witnessing and were the part of life in Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple.

When examining the stones of Jerusalem, one can get as close as it gets, to the real understanding of what the Lurianic teaching means when it says that stones have their own soul, too. Stones accumulate the energy of people and their emotions throughout the time. This energy does not disappear. It stays in stones. And never deeper than in the stones of Jerusalem.

In the Temple Tunnel, there is one particular, very special place, archeological sensation. I never saw anything like it in the world. In the same hall called as Hall of Epochs by the Temple Heritage Foundation, there are physical stones, architectural details, and artefacts from five epochs: the floor and from the period of the First Temple, the stones from the Second Temple period; a column and pillars from the Hellenistic time; the arches from the Hasmonean period; and corridors from the Roman  rule time, – all of it in the same physical space of not that large hall.

Jerusalem, My Stones art video essay which includes my art photography and collages and some of my husband Michael Rogatchi’s paintings, is dedicated to all Jerusalemites, those who are physically in the Holy City and those who hold it in their hearts.

When the Silver Thread becomes the Golden Bowl

Bar-Mitzvah ceremonies for Jewish boys are organised regularly in the Tunnel today by the Temple Heritage Foundation. Significantly, many of those boys are orphans and from underprivileged families. This is what I call the Silver Thread – or the Silver Cord as it often translated from Ecclesiastes  – “Remember Him before the silver cord is broken  (and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed), (Ecclesiastes 12:6).

I find it very symbolic that there has been only one documented episode in the entire Jewish-Arab history where there was Arab and Jewish unification on a certain issue. What was the issue? Back in the early 20th century, between 1907 and 1914, there were scandalous and farcical escapades of British aristocrats led by Monty Parker, to excavate in the heart of Jerusalem to recover nothing less than the Ark of the Covenant. They efficiently bribed the Turkish officials who were administering Jerusalem, and they went for unauthorised excavations hiding what they were doing in the most hilarious way. When word went out that the Brits were after the Ark, Jews and Arabs of Jerusalem united in fierce riots against the illegal doings of Monty Parker’s ‘brigade’ and made him flee for his life.    

At the junction where Muslim Quarter comes to Temple Plaza, there is another remarkable place, the Ohel Yitzhak Synagogue, which was destroyed by Jordan to its foundation – the same as the Hurva synagogue was  – in 1948, and which had been restored in mid-2010s. The synagogue which formerly was the Synagogue of Hungarian Jewry and was built in 1870s and now it is back to life, is very light, gracious and beautiful . Just before it was re-opened in mid- 2010s, we saw the IDF soldiers with their officers there with some of them able to pray at the quiet and inviting place. This is how the Ecclesiastic Silver Thread is becoming the Golden Bowl – without cracks.Inna Rogatchi (C). Ohel Yakov reborn. Fine art collage. 70 x 50 cm. 2014.

Hopes implemented

The Oleh Yitzhak Synagogue re-birth story was preceded by the well known Hurva Synagogue, a crown of the Hurva Square today.  After the date of its completed restoration in 2010, it is almost impossible to imagine that  this central place of the Old City once looked very different. Additionally, the Hurva story was particularly painful as it was the largest Ashkenazi synagogue in Jerusalem. Inna Rogatchi (C). Hurva Reminisce. Fine art photography. Limited edition. 1993-2013.

But when it comes to Jerusalem, there is something particular even in despair. In the early 1990s, the Hurva’s only surviving arch jumped into my husband’s and my hearts and stayed there. There are symbols like that in one’s life. Despite all the sorrow, that very arch meant our bridge to Jerusalem, for both of us. Reflecting this tangible bridge, Michael painted his so very special My Stones.Jerusalem painting which belongs to the Permanent Art Collection of the Municipality of Jerusalem, alongside famous works of Chagall and other great Jewish masters who did love Israel and Jerusalem with all their heart.Michael Rogatchi (C). My Stones. Jerusalem. Oil on canvas. 110 x 90 cm. 1993. Permanent Art Collection, the Municipality of Jerusalem.

Seventeen years after the completion of Michael’s work, Hurva Synagogue was restored. And then we united our artistic efforts and our love for Jerusalem and its spiritual treasures, and have created a special art collage, existing in the only copy. In that work, the ruins and the Arch of Hurva painted by Michael are merged with my artistic photograph of the Hurva restored. The piece is entitled Hurva Return, and we have presented the work to the outstanding Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzki who was an instrumental figure in making the restoration of Hurva possible. Inna & Michael Rogatchi (C). Hurva Return. Fine art collage on canvas. Unique. 2013. Permanent Art Collection, the Chief Rabbi of Dnepr, Ukraine.

With Jerusalem in heart in the desert of Gulag

Our generation is lucky to remember the Day in 1967 when it had happened, when historic justice prevailed due to human courage and commitment.

My husband will never forget when Jews exiled to the Soviet Gulag who were listening to the Voice of America secretly, risking their lives, were coming out to the streets in Kazakhstan crying out of joy “We’ve made the victory! We won! Jerusalem is ours, back again!”  ‘We’ – were crying with joy Jews exiled in nobody’s land. Many of us have been sharing their joy every year since Iyar 28, 1967 all over the world.

When many years and decades later, Michael was approached by the Jerusalem culture authorities with an idea to create a special collection of his works dedicated to the city, he worked with love and joy. Some of these works are the part of his special Zion Waltz series of exuberant paintings created in 2015-2017.Michael Rogatchi (C). My Yerushalaim. Exclusive art poster. 100 x 80 cm. 2021.

It is interesting to observe the transformation of feeling of Jerusalem in the artist’s heart: from painful, dramatic unsettling in Michael’s visioning of the Kotel as the essence of the Jewish history of suffering in his Portrait of the Kotel ( 1999) to the airy, flying, gentle Under the Skies of Jerusalem in 2016. In between those drama versus flight point, there are two depictions of the Lion of Judah, created by Michael with an 8 years gap, his shining  Lion created in 2008, and his soothing one created eight years later, in the work called Strength of Love ( 2016). The interesting and telling detail in the both works is the thoughtfulness of the Lion. The determination of love defending the essence of Judaism and the heart of Jewish nation in the second work is  pretty clear manifestation of the artist’s thoughts.

 Embracing ‘the whole Jerusalem’

My heart aches every time I pass the house where Israel patriots were hiding while fighting in the underground in 1948. My heart jumps every time when I am privileged to hear our Psalms at the Great Synagogue with its magnificent choir led by Ellie Jaffe. My heart stops when I feel the gentle but powerful push of the wind at every Shabbat we start at the Wall. That push of that wind signals us that the people of the nation are heard.

And I am thinking of Bella Chagall who was willing ‘to embrace the whole Jerusalem’ when she was a five years old child sitting with her family in Vitebsk, thousands of miles from it, – but knowing by her heart, the heart of a Jewish child, what Jerusalem is about.

Thirty years passed since my first acquaintance with Jerusalem, and our life has been stuffed with events. But I still remember and do feel the sensation of my personal discovering of Jerusalem  three decades ago as if it was happening today.  Probably, it was the main discovery in my entire life.Inna Rogatchi (C). The Dove of Israel. Exclusive art poster. 70 x 50 cm. 2021.

The Talmud provides the insight into the secret of the Kotel: according to it, there is a mirrored image of the Temple in the Heaven, and that entity keeps the Wall standing, no matter what occurs. Yet more importantly, it transcends the Presence. This presence is felt by anyone who ever visited the Kotel, even the most self-convinced atheists.   

For those who are not, in the beginning and in the end of the day, Jerusalem is the only place in this world where a person can talk with the Creator directly. 

A Duet of Loving Kindness. Enduring Beauty of a Jewish Family

Spirituality & Modern Life series

First published at Israel National News, February 2021.

Covid pandemic has turned our lives upside down. For observing Jewish families, all spiritual peaks of our traditional year have transformed into something completely new, unexpected, unknown. But it is not only our holidays which we are trying to keep on a surface, with more or less success. In many Jewish lives, such crucial events as bar Mitzvah and bat Mitzvah have been muted into some completely new experience for the second year now. 

Each family adopts to it in its own way. Parents, siblings and relatives are trying their utmost in a frantic effort to make this odd substitutional bar and bat Mitzvahs as celebrating as possible. 

And the children. In big families in particular, being witnessing their older brothers and sisters’ previous bar and bat Mitzvahs celebrated in the way we knew it, the children whose bar and bat Mitzvah are to be celebrated during the pandemic are in such a daring situation. 

All together, it poses a truly tough challenge to every observing Jewish family world-wide. How to handle it? What to do? To create something truly memorable for our children that they would bear it with them all their lives, being proud of it and cherishing it forever. 

As it happens in life, toughest drama can also produce the most powerful overcoming. There are so many various ways for that. In the special cases when people in question possess the richness of our tradition and the depth of their own inner content, this overcoming is getting into all different levels altogether. 

We closely know the family of Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetski, his wife Channah and their children for many years. We love them dearly, as many people do whose lives were and are shined because of who Rabbi Shmuel and Rebbetzin Channah are and what they project to the outside world. 

I once said that Rabbi Shmuel is ‘a diamond of a man’, and the longer I know him, the more I think this way. Being a direct descendant of Rashi on his mother’s side, Rabbi Shmuel projects his genetically rooted intellectual and spiritual brilliance generously, and it is always for sharing. He also can be tougher than tough, if the circumstances require it. As a diamond, indeed. He is witty and deeply cordial. And he shows extraordinary understanding and character amidst the most challenging situations. The best possible Rabbi and an exceptional man. 

His wife Channah who comes from the Baumgarten-Lipsker  Lubavitch Chabbad family of the people who were devoted close assistants of the Rebbe, is a very special person, indeed: brilliant mind, golden heart, beauty and witt, and that ever present youthfulness which is a special and rare gift to those very few who are truly deserve to be mercifully highlighted in the life this way. 

Channah’s grandfather was first ever Chabad Lubavitch shlicha to Argentine, while her grandmother was a close friend from youth with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the closest person to the Rebbe, the man of extraordinary mind and outstanding character. Channah herself in her childhood was lucky to spend many afternoons at the Rebbe’s house with his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya-Mushka, and remembers the Rebbetzin’s many talks with her, then little girl, all her life. Being moulded by such extraordinary people, Channah has told me very recently that ‘as far as I remember myself, I could not understand how to live, under any circumstances, in any place, without giving, whatever I had”. When domineering priority in one’s life is giving, this life is enlighted from within. And it warms up many people around.  

Recently, one of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kaminetski children, Yossi, has had his bar Mitzvah.  Celebrating it under the harsh realities in the pandemic restrictions, they have decided with assistance of their friends in the Dnepr Jewish community in Ukraine that Kaminetskis lead for over 30 years being sent to the beloved place of his youth by the Rebbe personally, to make a special video to commemorate the date. 

Yossi himself has chosen that so very beautiful Ben Kodesh Lechol song by Shulli Rand and Amir Dadon. There are many Jewish boys today recording musical videos for their altered way of celebrating bar Mitzvah, and the trend will be only growing. But there are videos and videos. The video which has been made for Yossi Kaminetski’s bar Mitzvah with his father Rabbi Shmuel starring with him there, is exceptional. 

One can watch it endlessly because of many reasons. The video presents a very good cinematography  – for which a well-deserved thank you goes to talented, cordial and understanding  Larissa Tremba and her husband Vjacheslav who runs their La Tre studio. It also shows a tasteful symbolism, organically balanced emotions, not too much, and not too little. It brings out surprisingly high quality of singing and musicality by both protagonists, the father and the son – yet more surprising for those who would learn that both are singing publicly for the first time ever. What a fantastic debut.  

But most and foremost of all, this three-and-half minute video captures and produces a simply golden outpour of the best in our people: loving kindness, an accord of aspiration and wisdom, best possible family bond. I just do not know a better living sample of what a Jewish family is about among the thousands of videos available on the theme. Additionally to that, there is also an organic, not boasting, spiritual aspect which shows how this enrooted dialogue of a Jewish believing person with the Creator originates the light of its own. 

I think I know the secret behind this very special effect of Yossi Kaminetski’s bar-Mitzvah musical video. It is the substance of the characters of father and son there, and their relationships which has come so beautifully out from that wonderful singing duet. 

To me and my husband, this video is a gift and a blessing. Every time when we are watching it – which is a lot – the warmth of love and the rare depth of the mighty Jewish character of Rabbi Shmuel outpours from the screen and embraces us in a special enlightening way. I regard this video not as just a good song and nice smiles. There is so much more in it. It is  a very valuable spiritual experience which enriches life by its beauty, its substance, its warmth, its depth and its gentleness.  It is also the best live – and singing – illustration of the term ‘loving kindness’ I’ve seen for a long time. 

And it is a rarity, too – as Rabbi Kaminetski did this incredible recording just for once, for this very occasion of unusual form of the bar-Mitzvah of one of his sons, in a superb way of joining forces with Yossi to celebrate it in a memorable way. 

I am very glad to be able to share this special video, this singing love in between our generations, with the wider audience. 

Being inspired by the talents of our dear friends, I have created  a special series of original artworks Duet of Loving Kindness. Enduring Beauty of Jewish Family which is presented here in the form of a photo-essay, an exclusive art panel to honor the Kaminetski family who live Jewish values as one breathes. This living is truly beautiful, as their singing is. 

Video-link –

 Link to the Inna Rogatch’s Duet of Loving Kindness original artwork series –

Inna Rogatchi ©

February 2021

The Inner Dimension – Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh’s Book of Parasha Thoughts

On Marchesvan 28th 5871, which is Sunday November 15th 2020 in the secular calendar, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh will turn 76. We are lucky to live at the time when such a luminary shines on so many of us. Rabbi Yitzchak’s super-modesty in projecting his immense knowledge upon us cannot overcome the fact that, in my deep conviction, he is an unparalleled figure in the modern Jewish world in his massive knowledge, his profound understanding, and his extraordinary talent for elegant clarity in presenting his knowledge and vision.

Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh

Rabbi Yitzhak GinsburghGal Einai Institute.

My husband Michael and I were very privileged to meet with Rav Yitzhak in his house in Kfar Chabad, and I am often in touch with him over many questions of Judaism that appear in my ongoing work and projects.

Rav Yitzhak is the one of the most elegant men I have ever met. It is not easy to bear the knowledge he is blessed to have, but he does so effortlessly. The inner light of the Torah shines out of him in an emphatically quiet, but stunningly beautiful way. In additional to being the supreme authority on Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, Rav Yitzhak is a soulful composer and sublime musician who loves to perform his own melodies and he does it in the way that it stays with you forever once you’ve heard it.

He paints, a fact which is not widely known. He is open to Jewish people of various levels of faith, he has special programs for women, he extends his hand to non-Jewish people who are interested in our faith, tradition and heritage. He has many brilliant students who are authorities in many fields of Jewish knowledge in their own right. He is a wonderful husband and devoted father to his many children and grandchildren. His house shines in that unique quiet glow of modesty, dignity, elegance and loving kindness which is the golden heart of Jewishness and Judaism.

Special Connection

Never in my life had I felt the return to the house of my great-grandfather Meer Chigrinsky and his wife Dinah Paley until we stepped into the house of Rav Yitzhak in Kfar Chabad. The last time I had the very same sensations it was there, in the room left for them to live in after the Bolshevik seizure of power, over half a century ago. It is the light which defines any home, not the number of rooms. The light which defines the house of Rav Ginsburgh in Israel is of the same nature which was the light in the apartment of my great-grandparents in Ukraine.

Thatis not that surprising, actually. Dinah Paley’s brother Sergey Shraga Paley was the person who ensured the work position for Rav Levi Schneerson, the father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in Ekaterinoslav in the beginning of the XX century. Shraga’s daughter, my great-aunt Esther married Menachem Ussishkin, and the couple lived in the Shraga’s house for their first ten years of marriage before they emigrated to Palestine. My great grandfather Meer, the nephew of Abram Chigrinsky, the treasurer of the giant Ekaterinoslav Jewish community, together with Rebbe’s father Rabbi Levi, saved that entire community from famine in a specially elaborated scheme.

Rabbi Ginsburgh, in his turn, is the one of the most brilliant students of the Rebbe, who had encouraged him to publish his teaching lessons in the form of the book back in 1980 when Rav Yitzhak was 35 years old. The Rebbe was known to be extremely foresighted. He saw the rare qualities of Rav Yitzchak quite early. With his encouragement and his blessing, during the following forty years until this day, Rabbi Ginsburgh has authored a stunning number of over 100 books in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish and Russian. His books explore the fields of knowledge which span science, physics and math in particular, in addition to psychology, health, Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah, marital relations and family, and on to politics and leadership. Rabbi Ginsburgh never repeats himself which is a quality of a super-brain. But this super-brain alone would never go into the innermost hearts of his readers, as it always does, without the fine and delicate, but very strong soul which speaks out in the voice and thoughts of Rav Yitzchak to all of us.

The Inner Dimension

Rabbi Ginsburgh’s newest book is The Inner Dimension, Insights into the weekly Torah Portion. Rav Yitzchak’s commentaries on the weekly parashot, his essays, are based on many of his public teachings on the corresponding portions of the Torah at Kfar Chabad, Jerusalem, Safed, Ramat Aviv, Beitar, Elon Moreh, Afulah, Upper Nazareth, Arad, Karnei Shomron, and Tel Aviv during the previous 13 years, and partially on several of his previous books in Hebrew with some of the articles featured on Arutz Sheva. It tells us, knowing the steady massive productivity of Rav Yitzchak, that he and his colleagues who worked on this book for a long time, have chosen the choicest parts of his wisdom. The book is exceptionally edited in masterly fashion by Rachel Gordon.Cover The Inner DimensionDr. Rogatchi

In the sense of the character of the knowledge brought out in these 54 chapters on 54 parashot, the book is very balanced . The narrative is neither too dry or too light, not too scientific and not too story-telling. In a very harmonious way, it provides the reader with an explanation of the essence of the phenomena occurring in every Parasha. Rabbi Ginsburgh has decided to focus not on the plots or character traits, but on the phenomena appearing and defining every parasha, thus enlightening us with a deeper understanding of what the Torah means to tell us while telling of certain characters and episodes. This is insight into insight.

In its overall tone, the book reminds me of a very important conversation with an esteemed Rabbi who is organically kind and is so wise in his heart that he does not project himself, but sees with the eyes of those to whom he is talking.

The tone of this book is perfect, when you read it, you are as if accompanied with a special quiet light.

Like many of us, I have read numerous commentaries to the Torah, many of them with brilliant thoughts, interesting insights, new parables. You can be knocked down by the mighty knowledge of the great Ari in what his brilliant and devoted pupil Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote down. You can be enlightened by the brilliance of the Maharal and be engaged by his demanding mind. You can be completely gripped by a colossal work and its great result in the Baal HaTurim’s unique commentary.

But I never manage to read the commentaries to the Torah each week except for Rashi, which provides you with this shimmering light that stays with you, importantly, from the moment you close the book, to the next moment when you open it again.

In his book, Rav Yitzchak brings parallels to the current life in Israel in his insights on the Torah weekly portions, and in it, this commentary brings Jewish Law into the midst of our day. Many of those who read it, would think again, and again, and will see the events of the present day, its tendencies, its genesis, in the context, as a moral constant for mindful believing conscientious Jew – and this is exactly why the Rebbe instructed young Rabbi Yitzhak to publish his classes in the form of books. Rebbe knew precisely whom he was tasking, why, and what for.

Watch: as Rabbi Ginsburgh sings the Alter Rebbe’s E-li Atah melody at the special event in Shilo on the Sukkoth 5780 (October 2019):

Clouded sun and comfort out of love

Gentle Jewish Giant, the Pride of Israel: Farewell to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

It promised to be a sunny day, August 7th, 2020, Av 17th 5780. All forecasts were unanimous on cloudless sunny weather in the southern part of Finland where we live.  And it was like that entire morning, until 11 am. Then a darkness surprised us, no rain, a slight whisper-like wind, with thick clouds all over the horizon all of a sudden. I knew that something serious happened. 

At 11.02 we learned about the passing of Rabbi Steinsaltz in Jerusalem. Just a day before that, being aware of Rav Adin’s sharply declined health, with my husband Michael, his ever devotee, praying for his health all that critical time, I thought that if that awful thing would happen, G-d forbid, in the case of Rabbi Adin, it should happen on Erev Shabbat. I cannot explain how my thoughts worked. It was nothing deliberate. It was like a visiting thought, a cloud brought by a wind, came directly to my mind and declared itself. It does not happen often,  I must say. Rav Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. Courtesy: Steinsaltz Centre.

With a person like Rabbi Steinsaltz, it just cannot be otherwise, I thought at the moment. And now we learned with such a sadness that it has happened this Erev Shabbat. The Creator looked after Rabbi Adin’s soul with care and love. For a Jewish person, to depart on Erev Shabbat is a very special sign of the Creator’s love.  And Rav Adin was a true luminary of our times, our quiet giant, the pride of Israel.

There are very few people in history in general, Jewish or not, who have made a similar impact on millions all over the globe, and there are very few people who have contributed in a similar way serving humanity as Rabbi Steinzaltz did.

It is a privilege to be a contemporary of such a giant. And it is a deep  and painful sadness to see him leaving us. Actually, with all his books and teaching he has left us with, he cannot possibly leave us. People like that preserves, and Rabbi Adin, Even-Israel, did preserve a lot of light indeed, and spread it generously. Millions know what they know largely because and thanks to him. His is an outstanding legacy.

In another symbolic development, Rabbi Adin also passed away just three weeks after his 83d birthday, which is the time of the Jewish man’s second bar Mitzvah, what is known as re-bar Mitzvah, symbolic second bar-Mitzvah for a Jewish man after his 70th birthday, the age in which King David has left this world. Another beautiful symbolism for a great Rabbi, a universal Jewish Teacher who did spread the light  and explained the wisdom of the Torah to an enormous amount of people world-wide. After Rabbi Adin’s serious stroke which occurred in 2016, it was another grace provided to him from Above. And it is so fitting to the sage of our time who loved symbolism and understood its beauty. 

His Guide to Jewish Prayer ( 1994) is with my husband Michael since the day of its publication, 26 years by now. And Michael still gets to this dear book for him so very often all these years, more than a quarter of a century. He has a special bond with it, it is like speaking with one’s teacher. And Michael regards Rabbi Adin as his Teacher. His bookshelves are full of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s books, as shelves of so many of us. His photograph is on the Michael’s study wall, along with several dear friends Rabbis, and I know that it is very important for Michael to have it there, so close to him. Michael Rogatchi (C). Eretz Israel. Journey in Time. Pen on cotton paper. 40 x 50 cm. 2016. Homage to Rav Adin Steinsaltz.

I will never forget the joy that overwhelmed me when my mom, who had no privilege of learning Judaism as she would like to, in her early and mid-life, was completely taken by Rav Adin’s The Thirteen Petalled Rose, his indisputable classic when she was able to read it in her senior years. “I’ve got it, I’ve got it! Oh, how beautiful it is, how clear, how interesting!” – she was exclaiming, stroking the small elegant edition of the Rose with a child’s enthusiasm and an elder’s  gratitude at the same time. I thought: “Toda Raba, Rav Adin!”, and I still feel that gratitude ever since. 

Some of Rav Adin’s teaching have inspired me in my own search, intellectual, spiritual and artistic, too.Inna Rogatchi (C). The Thirteen Petalled Rose. Homage to Rav Adin Steinsaltz. The Garment of the Moon series. Lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on white cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2020.

I know that it was the case for so many millions world-wide. 

I also know that Rabbi Adin in his giant Talmud project’s undertaking had unified so many people who had become colleagues and friends, including several of our own colleagues and friends,  working on this extraordinary project in so many countries, from Russia to Italy and back.  It is another great side of Rav Adin’s legacy, to create a world-wide community of his students and followers who speak the same language, share the similar values and are close to each other even not necessarily being personally known each to other. This is what educated humanity is to me. 

I find it not coincidental that the Talmud parts which were studied in two days preceding Rav Adin’s passing dealt with the sad matters of us leaving this world. Another telling symbol connected with this great man’s leaving us. 

His funeral was very special too. That beautiful singing around, this dignity of the family, not surprisingly but very assuredly, that warmth emanating from everyone of so  many people present. So many young ones around, very importantly. So much light in encompassing sorrow. All that love in its embracing comforting way.

It was an extraordinary farewell to a quiet giant, the Teacher for so many of us. It was the only possible way to say ‘good-bye’ to the man who will be with many of us forever, literally so. 

The inexplicable clouds which darkened the horizon in the place where we live, gave its way to the sun to return at the time when the ceremony of farewell with Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz had started in Jerusalem, just before 2 pm. It was shining, as it was forecasted, ever since all the time of that so special, so reflective Erev Shabbat. Inna Rogatchi (C). Clouded View. Watercolour, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2020.

 Baruch Dayan Emet, dear Rabbi Adin. Love and support to big and good Steinzalt’s family.

Roses of Shavuot: Wisdom as Beauty

After forty nine days of counting the Omer which also means an annual inner preparation for Shavuot, giving us the moral code, we are about to enter the celebration of getting wisdom. 

Preparing for the celebration, we at The Rogatchi Foundation thought to engage people from some communities world-wide, our partners and friends in Estonia, London and the United States, with a mini Shavuot quiz. We wanted it to keep it interesting and that’s why we elaborated the question on the subject which had not been in discussion much. We also wanted to keep it simple, and thus concentrated on just one episode and one person. The person was Elkanah, the father of prophet Samuel.Michael Rogatchi (C). Eretz Israel. Journey in Time I. Pencil on white cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2016. The Rogatchi Art collection.

Elkanah, who was blessed to father such a giant as Samuel because of something special, is the figure which is not discussed much  in the existing Biblical sources. His merit which led him to father such an essential figure as Samuel was Elkanah’s personal effort to make the three pilgrimages to the Mishkan in Shiloh as the established and wide tradition among the Jews his contemporaries. 

Elkanah had a vision, understanding, will and devotion to the Creator to put serious conscious spiritual, practical and financial effort to spread the important tradition among his fellow Jews in many places on the way of his and his extended family’s pilgrimages three times a year annually, every year going by the different route to engage more people from different places.  

What’s more, it is established knowledge in Judaism based on the Talmud Yerushalaim that Elkanah went to Shiloh annually not just three, but four times. How come? What do we know about it? 

The corresponding phrase in the Talmud Yerushalaim is the following one:  “And the man [Elkanah] would ascend from his city, as was his custom, to bow down and bring sacrifices to the God of Hosts in Shiloh” (1 Samuel 1:3). He went from time to time to fulfil his vows and bring sacrifices at the Tabernacle”. 

Until now, it was not established in the existing Biblical commentaries on how the sages learned from that verse in Samuel 1:3 that Elkanah went to Shiloh four times a year.

Working within the frame of our The Light of the First Day  © project on artistic and intellectual interpretation of the Jewish Biblical and Talmudic knowledge, The Rogatchi Foundation  team believes to resolve the matter.  Inna Rogatchi (C). The Light of the Torah I. The Light of the First Day project. Watercolour, crayons a encre, oil pastel, hand-applied gold leaf on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2018-2019. Private collection, Israel.

In the fundamental Jewish narrative, there is an established tradition of deducting the number of times from the Biblical narrative while equaling the written actions as times. 

Such approach is applied, for example, in the deduction of number of the Thirteen Attributes of the Creator’s Mercy (Exod. 32:10) as commented by Rashi and other illustrious Biblical commentators; in the Passover Haggadah when Rabbi Jose the Galilean, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva are deducting the number of plagues sent by the Creator over Egypt and Egyptians; and all over the Talmud.  We thought that the same way of thinking should be applied to crack the puzzle on Elkanah’s pilgrimages. 

Our understanding  is based on the method which is regularly applied in deduction of a number of actions/reasons in analysing and commentaries of the Jewish sacred texts. This method counts the actions of Elkanah as cited in the passage in Talmud Yerushalaim, as follow: 

  1. [And the man [Elkanah] would ascend from his city – one, 
  2. [as] was his custom                                                           – two, 
  3. to bow down                                                                      – three, 
  4. and bring sacrifices [to the God of Hosts in Shiloh    –  four. 

From the result of this application, it is clear that Elkanah went to Shiloh four times. 

We were happy to be supported in this understanding by such renowned Jewish Biblical authority of our times  as Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh who graciously commented on our finding with regard to Elkanah: ‘ The idea that actions suggest times is correct. The allusion to that idea is that the two roots of [the words] action and times [in Hebrew] , pa’al (פעל) and pa’am (פעם) respectively, are similar to each other. They both begin with the letters פע, which means ‘appearance’. “ (Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh’s commentary on Elkanah inquiry, May 2020). Michael Rogatchi (C). Shavuot Rose. Indian ink, oil pastel on yellow Italian hand-made cotton paper. 50 x 35 cm. 2015.

What was especially interesting in the whole process of this examination of the Talmud narrative is how a wide context of moral imperatives and on the role of a woman has emerged from analysing just one phrase of the Jewish sacred text. And it all had happened on the way to the Shavuot, amidst our daily challenges of corona-affected life in so many ways. 

Two essential things we have learned during that episode of our ongoing project: the special meaning of voluntarily performed mitzvot, and the role of a woman, once again, this time, exemplified  by Chanah the mother of Samuel and the wife of Elkahan. 

In the modern practices of observation of Judaism, it is understood that undertaking mitzvot is commendable because it is an obligation. But in the case of Elkanah, his fourth extra pilgrimage to Shiloh was completely voluntarily one. And this is what matters. When people are willing to do mitzvot not because they have been told so, or reminded, or asked to do it, but because they strive to do it on their own, matters – and impacts –  in volumes more.  

Another gem from the same one passage in the Talmud Yerushalaim speaks on the role of a woman in Jewish life in general. Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh saw that in the phrase “And that man [Elkanah] ascended”, in Hebrew  “ ועלה האיש הה” , the final letters of each word from end to beginning  spell out isha (woman). This teaches us that “Everything comes from the woman.” The energy that motivated Elkanah in his special project of ascending to the Mishkan four times a year was his beloved wife, Chanah”. 

It is amazing to see so many essential things hidden in just one phrase of a well-known Biblical text. It does show in a beautiful way both eternity and encompassing of not only every word, but also of every letter of the Torah, as it is known to our sages. And it is really gratifying to celebrate Shavuot with the appearance of these gems of hidden wisdom and elegance of Judaism thinking from the very beginning of it. 

We are greeting everyone who participated  in our pre-Shavuot mini-quiz,  awarding all the participants with a special Gratitude Diploma. The picture featured in the Diploma is Inna Rogatchi’s The Thirteen Petalled Rose ( 2020) artwork depicting one of the most important symbols of the Jewish Knowledge. Inna Rogatchi (C). The Thirteen Petalled Rose. The Garment of the Moon series. Lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on white cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2020.

Importantly, the artwork also symbolises the idea of inner knowledge which is the essence of beauty as it is seen in Judaism. 

The one of the most beautiful moments connecting Shavuot to us is the image of Mount Sinai becoming covered in roses at the moment of giving the Torah to our people.  The power of beauty symbolised by this image can be hardly expressed better. 

The essential connection, even equalisation of knowledge , wisdom and beauty shines in the essence of Shavuot. It tells about us as about the people of the Book,  and it does it beautifully. As beautiful as a rose. The rose of Shavuot.