Art and Thought series:
Yom Kippur dialogues

A time of dialogue with oneself, Rabbis, writings, friends, and that ultimate dialogue with the Creator which is the essence of Yom Kippur.

Dr. Inna Rogatchi ,

Rogatchi: Lifeline
Rogatchi: Lifeline

Art & Thought Series. Article 2 (part 1 for Rosh Hashanah can be viewed here.)

© Inna Rogatchi

The significance of various periods in our Jewish calendar makes our life thoughtful, reflective and meaningful. But there is nothing like a special time of those ten days in Tishrei between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when many of us are awaiting anxiously the High verdict for each of us for the year to come.

In more general terms, the time preceding Yom Kippur is probably the time of our highest anxiety on what will happen to us, our family, friends, beloved ones, our people and our country in a new year ahead of us. Is there a way to transliterate our inner thoughts in that period into visual images? I think so.

Challenges of the Ten Days of Repentance: in Life, in Thoughts, and in Art

In my work Challenges. Questions and Answers (2020), I am addressing this group of intentions, which are especially palpable during the Ten Days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rogatchi1 : Challenges

Inna Rogatchi(C). Challenges. Questions & Answers. Crayons Luminance, oil pastel on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2020. Hidden Windows series. Private collection, London, the UK.

As the main, or prevailing mental process during that Ten Days period is a self-inspection, I reflected on it in another work, Life-line I (2020). What we see in the work is the moment when a person amid the daily routine is stopped for a moment to check upon his or her own actions and intentions.

Rogatchi: Lifeline

Inna Rogatchi (C). Lifeline I. Lapice pastel, crayons Luminance, oil pastel on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 40 x 30 cm. 2020. Tree of Sparks series.

Kol Nidrei : Mixture of Aspirations

Since the time of its composure at the Geonic period, this is from VI to XI century, our entering into Yom Kippur has been rendered endlessly in many directions of art and music, from poetry to classical original music renditions by Max Bruch and the others. And of course, visual arts.

I have created my own artistic interpretation of Kol Nidrei in the work which emphasises the strong and unified - and unifying - movement to ascend. What is ascending? Our aspirations for Mercy at the very moment of the beginning of Yom Kippur. In this mixture of aspirations, there are mighty and fine ones, conscious and subconscious ones, more sure and less sure ones, all of them directed towards the ultimate place of our hopes.

Rogatchi3: Kol Nidre

Inna Rogatchi ©. Kol Nidrei. Watercolour, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance, encre l’alcool, Indian ink on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2020. A Garment of the Moon series.

Balance in Pictures

As Yom Kippur unfolds, we are thinking being intensely focused, probably as we can be focused only once a year, on the essential issue, the balance of good and evil, in many of its dispositions - in our personal life, and many other aspects of this crucial balance.

Sometimes, an artist can see it in a graphic way as well.

Rogatchi4: Balance of good and evil

Inna Rogatchi (C). Balance Between Good and Evil. Crayons Luminance, lapice pastel on authored original archival print on cotton paper. Tree of Sparks series. 2020.

Even in our philosophical approach to life, it sometimes (quite rarely, actually) looks like a composition in black and white, the shape of polar substances is so similar often. It is all detail, nuance, intentions and motivations that are not that visible, most of the time. One really needs to have his or her moral compass in perpetual working order to distinct in often amorphous and sometimes quite similar shapes of the forces of good and those of the opposite, in order to live one’s life decently.

To be able to awake at the decisive moment, to trust your moral compass, to follow it, to change one’s trajectory if necessary. There is no more suitable moment in our annual circle of life than Yom Kippur to concentrate on that balance and to be able to see it more clearly than in a midst of our daily routine.

The ongoing battle between Gog and Magog is also very much the theme of this balance between evil and good, and thus is the theme of Yom Kippur. In my artistic interpretation of this one of the central terms of Judaism, Gog & Magog dynamics is shown in a thorn circle. If the circle would be unthorn, there would be no ongoing struggle between two beginnings, Gog and Magog. The positive, bright elements are directed upwards, thus underlining their decisiveness to prevail over the negative elements. In the work, there are also variations of intentions of Gog and Magog, the differentiation of their strength, character, and self-manifestation.

Rogatchi5: Gog and Magog

Inna Rogatchi ©. Gog and Magog. Watercolour, lapice

Sincerity as prerequisite of Hope

In what does our hope lie while we are awaiting for Yom Kippur? I think, in sincerity. And in the case of such multi-sourced strives as we experience on Yom Kippur, this sincerity does require warmth, to sustain us in our pleas which can be dramatic enough. I was thinking of this enduring warmth of sustenance in our Yom Kippur dialogues artistically, too. It is reflected in my work Life of Sparks I.

This kind of warmth is much needed - especially when circumstances are not easy ones. It could be cold, and complicated, and muddled around us - as we all are experiencing, especially during these weird times of the covid 19 pandemic when our surroundings are not that cheerful or easy going for many of us. It is not unilaterally dangerous, or absolutely gloomy, but it is weird enough to make our life uneasy. The more warmth we all need in circumstances like that, twice so on Yom Kippur.

Rogatchi7: Life of Sparks

Inna Rogatchi (C). Life of Sparks II. Watercolor, oil pastel, wax pastel, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton Museum Velin 315 mg paper. 33 x 48 cm. Tree of Sparks series. 2019.

Mercy of Understanding

In the special time of year, when we do a year-back check and re-examining our pros and cons, with this kind of honesty, when a human being talks to himself or herself, without having the luxury to create various excuses, the understanding of some patterns of our lives sometimes flashes in the most unexpected way. In the space of this ever-present balance of good and evil, such understanding, even if it could be sobering, still is healthy and truly energizing. It can be helpful and it can be encouraging. And it can be beautiful too, as the process of achievement of clarity of mind is a beautiful thing.

This is the theme of my artwork, Beauty of Understanding (2020)

Rogatchi8: Beauty of Understanding

Inna Rogatchi (C). Beauty of Understanding. Watercolor, oil pastel on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 40 x 30 cm. 2020. Tree of Sparks series.


The summary of our different, but still one-vectored efforts during the Ten Days prior to Yom Kippur can be formulated in one word: quest. Soul’s quest. Yom Kippur is the essential moment of such a quest.

With the annual process of self-introspection, we come with open-ended results, and after Rosh Hashanah we just cannot know in which of the three Books we are written for the year that has just started. On Yom Kippur, and all the ten days before its actual arrival, our efforts in preparing, our readiness to change, our striving to hope all come together in this acute quest of our souls.

Rogatchi:9: Sou's quest

Inna Rogatchi (C). Soul’s Quest. Watercolor, oil pastel, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton Museum Velin 315 mg paper. 33 x 48 cm. 2020.

What will this just started year be like for me, my family, my friends? How are we written, in which book? This is the moment when our quest gets more anxious, but also more hopeful, completely in accord with humanity’s vulnerable, but enduring nature.

Rogatchi10 Soul's quest fragmant

Inna Rogatchi (C). Soul’s Quest. Fragment. 2020.

After the special time of the entire Elul, and with the arrival of Rosh Hashanah, every year, our understanding of ourselves gets more structured and our hopes acquire a more daring shape. By the time of Yom Kippur, our request — and our quest — gets simpler, more open, and uncomplicated..

I have tried to reflect on it from the artistic perspective. One big plus in such a reflection is that it always provides a wide space for interpretation, being able to accommodate, I hope, aspirations of so many different views.

Yom Kippur Dialogues

There is so much daring, but also such hope, in a special time like the beginning of our Jewish year, with many dialogues for every one of us. The dialogues which I call Yom Kippur Dialogues. They include many sorts of dialogues: with oneself, with one’s Rabbis, with some of our writings, with one’s friends, and that ultimate dialogue with the Creator which is the essence of Yom Kippur.

I hope that our aspirations during those different Yom Kippur Dialogues will result for all of us in the assuring and energetic dialogue, something of the kind which I have created in this work of mine, Dialogue in Heaven ( 2020).

Rogatchi12 Dialogue in Heaven

Inna Rogatchi ©. Dialogue in Heaven. Watercolour, wax pastel, oil pastel, lapice pastel, crayons Luminance on authored original archival print on cotton paper. 50 x 70 cm. 2020. A Garment for the Moon series.

Dr. Inna Rogatchi is co-founder and president of the Rogatchi Foundation and a prolific scholar, writer, artist, film-maker and speaker. After her term in the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association, she is the member of the International Advisory Board of Rumbula Project ( USA). She is the author of the concept of Culture for Humanity Global Initiative which facilitates psychological support via arts and culture internationally. Together with her husband, she is a founding member of the Leonardo Knowledge Network, the cultural educational body of leading European scientists and artists.