Anti-Semitic Soviet Union Ironically Sparked Israeli Artist

December 24, 2016, Written by

Ella Rozenberg teaches art in Ashkelon, on the Gaza border, in Israel. When the rockets come, she herds her pupils into the bathroom and hopes for the best. (And the rockets have come often, scores a day during the 2014 war) She is a native of the Soviet Union, from what is now, Georgia. She tries to maintain a connection with the beauty of art during times of war. I have visited her studio and have seen the light she injects into her students minds, no matter the circumstances around them. To me, that is the essence of art, is it not? LTW

As a child, I had two favorite hobbies: writing poetry and drawing. At a very young age I began to dream what I wanted to do when I grown up. At first, I thought that I would become a poet. Poems formed like “pearls” in me, and from the age of four I would rhythm the words, speaking in verses with my parents. For me it was like a game. As soon as I learned how to write, I began writing them down and creating illustrations, reading out loud in front of my best listeners – my parents. They used to like the poems. Their opinion was very important to me. I decided that I would become a poet.

In my first effort, I sent my new poem to the children’s magazine “Murzilka”. It was a sad poem about the short life of a kid (baby goat) eaten by the wolf. Unfortunately, this poem has been lost as I destroyed all the notes tearing them into small pieces after receiving the response from the publisher. The letter was intended to be hidden from me, but I overheard my parents’ conversation:

Mom: Isai, did you read what those anti-semites wrote?

Dad: We should have come up with a pen name, and not to sign her verse with her real (Jewish) name.

Upon hearing this phrase, I became indignant. Returning in my room, I screamed in denial that the publisher had nothing against me in particular, or against Jews in general, but that my poem was poorly written. Pieces of torn paper flew like snowflakes from the fourth floor balcony.

The final straw that ended my desire to write poems was my mother’s’ phrase, “poets are all loony”, so I diverted my efforts to painting. She never mentioned that painters are also loony, but I fell in love with painting forever and with all my heart.

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