A North American student at the Arad Arts Program in the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) Institute has put words to the pain Israeli society cannot express.
Josh Morrel, a student in the general WUJS program, was not registered in the special arts program, in which actors, writers, musicians, dancers and visual artists spend the semester exploring their Jewish identity within the context of the Israeli experience.
Nor did he appear on the official program handed out at the Institute’s final exhibition of the artists’ works.
But the 23-year-old writer from Skokie, Illinois wrote a poem so powerful that a member of the arts program, visual artist Deb Houben, felt compelled nonetheless to deliver its message in an oral presentation.
“They want to look at her – but she reminds them of their daughter…Through her eyes they can see the piercing cacophony of the alarm that wouldn’t go off for days…”Morrel reflected his personal reaction to the news events he experienced during the semester and the unflinching Israeli response to the endless challenges.
“When someone gives up their life for you, to save you, everything is for two. Two to fight, two to live, laugh, cry, two to feel. Two to absolve the regret, two to console the one who screams behind the curtain.”“Writing is extremely therapeutic for me,” said Morrel, who added that he found it to be the easiest outlet to express his “passion for life, love, Judaism and Zionism.”
One of the registered Artists in the program, Yisroel Brandon Marlon, also employed the written word to give voice to his vision of life in Israel.
Marlon presented work which spanned the geography, demography and politics of the Land. The Canadian actor, playwright, screenwriter and poet focused his attention on the serenity of his surroundings, but did not fail to notice the contradictions in Israeli society.
“The desert is a shelter for life-weary wanderers, Negev nights delight those daring or lost…”Marlon’s “Negev Nights” and “Sons of the South” contrasted with his observations of the disparity between hareidi and secular Jews in the Jewish State.
“Between Jew and Israeli lies a maturing Machtesh [crater – ed.], A canyon of unfamiliarity now well-confirmed, But I affirm this must end in our lifetimes, friend…”The WUJS post-graduate studies program is geared to young Jews from around the world who want to learn more about Israel.
The Arad Arts Program, a special division within the general program, is led by local artist Avital Aharoni, who provides guidance and support for the students as they journey through the creative process.
“Even when [the students] return home,” said Aharoni in her program statement, distributed at the artists’ final exhibition, "these signs remain etched deep inside them… as Jewish young people that know the place [that] Judaism and Israel inhabit inside of them.”