Support Our Future Leaders

The Media Line is known for producing truthful, unbiased journalism and we are teaching future journalists to do the same. Through our signature Press and Policy Student Program, The Media Line provides an innovative opportunity for students to globalize their educational experience by connecting to an active news bureau in the Middle East, studying journalism and public policy under the mentorship of veteran journalists while earning academic credit.

These students will reshape how the world sees and understands the Middle East and, in turn, how the Middle East impacts our world. Your contribution will provide the next generation with the skills they need to uphold the highest standards of journalism and, in turn, educate our global society with integrity and respect.

Thank you!

“The Press and Policy Student Program has elevated my global awareness, supported my journalistic efforts, and propelled me on the path of future success within the news industry.”
Press and Policy Student Program Participant
Carla Warren, University of Houston
Thank you and best wishes.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President
Rare Glimpse Into Ultra-orthodox World At Jerusalem Design Week
Artist Marcelle Biton in front of her display at Jerusalem Design Week's “Haready-Made: The Product in Orthodox Society” exhibition. (Credit: Yelena Kvetany)

Rare Glimpse Into Ultra-orthodox World At Jerusalem Design Week

Exhibition by haredi artists sheds light on a mostly insular community

Jerusalem Design Week happens every year, but it was a first for some artists participating in the exhibition “Haready-Made: The Product in Orthodox Society.” Relating to this year’s overall theme of “conserve,” the exhibition showcases objects used by members of the Haredi community—ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject secular life—in order to sustain their culture in socially liberal and tech-savvy Israel.

The exhibition, which is on display at the Jerusalem Theater, runs until June 14.

Noa Cohen, the exhibition’s curator, related to The Media Line how the idea for the exhibition arose. While doing research on a different topic for her PhD thesis at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Cohen stumbled upon the Art Shelter Gallery nestled in Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Mekor Baruch.

“I realized a lot of artists [in this community] pursued very unique ways of making art. I volunteered as their curator for a few years and now I manage the Art Shelter Gallery. The exhibition at the Jerusalem Theater,” she continued, “is a collaboration [between the gallery and Design Week].”

Cohen said that for some of the 15 artists participating in the exhibition, it is the first time they are showcasing their art in a public place. “I realized that there are many things in the ultra-orthodox community not known by outside spectators, such as the way they live and how they make their products specifically tailored to their needs,” she noted.

One of the displays at the exhibition consists of a mannequin whose head is covered by a bright, colorful head-scarf (tichel). A cellphone is visible between the mannequin’s head and the head-scarf. Artist Marcelle Biton told The Media Line that this work is an adaptation, depicting how Haredi women often speak—often without using their hands—on “kosher” cellphones conveniently tucked underneath their tichels.

“You can’t find these scarfs in the stores; they are hand-made. And kosher phones are usually small ones produced by Nokia or Samsung,” Biton explained.

Unlike most Haredim, Biton did not go through the community’s educational system and therefore ended up with experiences atypical of ultra-Orthodox women.

“You are inspired and want to express what you’ve experienced. The fact my artwork is being displayed during Design Week is already an achievement. Opportunities for Haredi artists to show their work are already very limited,” Cohen said. “It makes it more interesting to consider that there aren’t enough young, female artists within the Haredi community.”

Bar Mayer is another female artist who grew up within the Haredi community, but left it behind in later years. Her display at Design Week features a large portrait of her family tree.

“The work is the first I’ve done to reconnect with my family after many years of distance,” Mayer told The Media Line. The decision to make a fresh start 19 years ago meant a formal break with her ultra-Orthodox community.

A quick glance at her art reveals signs of discord. Almost half of the family members presented in the tree were either absent in the space assigned for a portrait—which was often substituted by colored papers—or they appeared with their backs to the camera. Some members wore traditional Orthodox garb such as the black fedora and suit, although some did appear in modern clothing.

“Some of them didn’t understand why I was reconnecting with the community. Showing up with my camera was very invasive in a way. I don’t expect them to get me, because art is very marginal in the Orthodox world,” Cohen elaborated.

For artists in the Haredi community or closely linked to it, participating in shows can be very a thorny affair, especially if they take place on the Sabbath—the Jewish day of rest—or involve an international audience.

“This type of exhibition shows the diversity of the Israeli art world,” Cohen concluded. “It’s much more authentic and an opportunity to experience a broader range of Israeli art. I see the exhibition as a bridge.”

In addition to the Design Week exhibition allowing them to experiment with their artistry, both Biton and Mayer emphasized that the event has motivated them to reconnect with their Haredi heritage.

(David Lee is a Student Intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program)

Give the Gift of Trusted News!

Dear friends,

The Media Line is always there to report to you the stories and issues of the Middle East – completely and in context: TML is the source you can trust.

Know The Media Line to Know The Middle East!

Please support our ad-free, nonprofit news agency. Our seasoned journalists reporting from the Middle East are working day and night during these challenging, yet defining times; and our student interns are honing their knowledge and skills, preparing to emerge as tomorrow’s journalists.

You rely on us and we’re relying on you! Make your online tax-deductible donation here and contact us regarding donations through appreciated stock, donor advised funds, qualifying IRA distributions and other charitable instruments.

Thank you for confidence in The Media Line.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.