Craig Dershowitz is an ardent Zionist. He doesn’t eat pork or shellfish, runs a profitable nonprofit and plans to maneuver to Israel subsequent month. However for the tattoos that cowl his total physique besides his face, palms and the underside of his ft, he’s what your bubbe may name “the right Jewish boy.”
Dershowitz is the co-founder and president of Artists 4 Israel, a corporation that works to forestall the unfold of anti-Israel bigotry by artwork and goals to assist communities and other people affected by terrorism and hate. The nonprofit was created throughout 2009’s Operation Solid Lead, or the Gaza Battle, when Dershowitz was alarmed by “anti-Israeli forces utilizing trendy up to date artforms, significantly in marginalized communities, to speak about Israel in a damaging mild,” he mentioned.
When he met with leaders of assorted Jewish legacy teams to clarify there was an antisemitic drawback in artforms like hip-hop and graffiti, he mentioned, “they laughed us out of their workplaces.”
So, Dershowitz, a Brooklyn-born, Los Angeles-based Jew, launched Artists 4 Israel, bringing graffiti and road artists to color murals on bomb shelters in Israel. The undertaking discovered its place, he mentioned, by collaborating with non-Israeli artists on humanitarian help initiatives.
“That turned the entry level for them to find out about and advocate for Israel,” he mentioned.
In 2016, Artists 4 Israel launched one other, extra controversial, undertaking — Therapeutic Ink, which supplies free tattoos to cowl the scars of survivors of terrorist assaults, and of IDF troopers injured in fight. Dershowitz mentioned the tattoos assist survivors reclaim their our bodies and proceed to heal bodily and mentally.
On Oct. 3 and 4, Artists 4 Israel is bringing Therapeutic Ink to Pittsburgh, providing free tattoos to these affected by the bloodbath on the Tree of Life constructing. Roughly 15 totally different Pittsburghers will obtain tattoos on every of the 2 days. The placement for the occasion is but to be introduced, however tattoo artists could also be obtainable to go to somebody’s house ought to a person want to obtain a tattoo privately.
Members don’t should be Jewish, however they have to apply for a tattoo prematurely. Along with members of the Jewish neighborhood, Dershowitz mentioned he has a mushy spot for first responders and a ardour to assist them.
Sharon J. Serbin is a longtime attendee of Congregation Dor Hadash, one of many three congregations attacked within the Tree of Life constructing. She has deep roots on the congregation, together with as a trainer in its non secular college, and though she wasn’t in shul on Oct. 27, 2018, she mentioned the assault impacts her tremendously.
“I knew a few of the individuals who died and others who have been injured,” Serbin mentioned. “I used to be in that constructing each week, educating my college students the enjoyment of being Jewish. This was private. This was house. This was an invasion and assault on my neighborhood.”
Serbin wrote in her Therapeutic Ink software that she was shocked to find that she continues to be traumatized by the bloodbath.
“I knew how I felt for the primary 12 months after it occurred, however I assumed I had boxed it up and moved ahead,” she mentioned. “I hadn’t.”
The Pittsburgh undertaking will use native artists in addition to a couple of “heavy hitters” within the tattoo world, Dershowitz mentioned. All of the artists donate their time.
Regardless of his confidence in the advantages of Therapeutic Ink, Dershowitz, 44, understood the undertaking would have its critics. Previous to launching the initiative, representatives from Artists 4 Israel spoke with a number of Conservative and Orthodox rabbis and the group has featured conversations with varied rabbis about tattoos and Jewish custom on its Fb web page.
In line with Jewish regulation, tattooing is “unacceptable,” mentioned Rabbi Danny Schiff, the Jewish Federation of Higher Pittsburgh’s Group Basis scholar.
The prohibition in opposition to tattoos, Schiff mentioned, may be present in Leviticus 28: “You shall not make a laceration for the lifeless in your flesh. And the imprint of a tattoo you shall not place upon you. I’m the Lord.”
“Putting everlasting markings within the flesh is forbidden and the inverse of holiness,” Schiff mentioned.
Our our bodies, he added, don’t belong to us, subsequently we’ve got an obligation to maintain them complete, unblemished and intact.
Rabbi Alex Greenbaum, a Conservative rabbi and the non secular chief of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, agreed with Schiff that tattoos are forbidden based on the Torah — and nonetheless a “no-go” within the Conservative motion — however famous that there’s a false impression that somebody with a tattoo can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
“We bury those that eat cheeseburgers, and we bury those that have tattoos,” Greenbaum mentioned.
Regardless of the positions mentioned by Schiff, Greenbaum and different rabbis, Dershowitz got here to a special conclusion. He recalled the Talmud principle, “Whoever saves a life, it’s thought of he saved the entire world.” In his opinion, that salvation isn’t strictly bodily.
“We knew we have been getting into provocative territory, however we mentioned, if it is a therapeutic modality that may assist, who would have the chutzpah to inform somebody that jumped on a terrorist bomber as he entered a public house that he can’t get a tattoo if it’s going to heal him?”
“We’re not on the market with a gun defending individuals from terrorists, however we’re saving them,” he mentioned. “They’re popping out of their homes — a few of these individuals haven’t left their homes alone, they haven’t worn shorts, as foolish as that may sound, in 10 years. They will’t maintain their kids due to PTSD, they’re afraid they’ll drop them in the event that they hear a loud sound. These tales are horrific. I don’t need to appear conceited, however I’m proud that we’ve helped flip peoples’ lives round.”
In some methods, Dershowitz sees Therapeutic Ink as a non secular calling.
“I really feel like I’m doing the very best work I’m able to and the group is doing as near God’s work as we are able to discover,” he mentioned. “Once we stand up to the Pearly Gates, I don’t suppose anybody goes to doubt what we did and that our intentions have been proper.”
Anybody concerned with making use of for a tattoo by Therapeutic Ink can achieve this at healingink.org.
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