RESPONDING TO THE NOW.
For the best viewing experience, we recommend viewing the issue on desktop.
Elizabeth Ruty Shehter
Visual Art Editors
Shock, rage, hope, despair, and most of all, grief. In the wake of the barbaric attacks that took place on October 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza, all of us face the immense task of making sense of this painful new reality.
We watch the news, doom scroll, cry, debate, and try to breathe. We create. We insist on words, on composition, on extracting the tormenting swirl of emotions within and making something tangible from it — a release that can be shared and experienced by others. We write stories and poetry. We paint, take photos, draw, design. In the darkest of days, we insist on creation. We know that to be human is to create, so when it seems as though humans have lost their humanity, we do what we can to restore it. And just as importantly, we share what we create, knowing this is essential to building and rebuilding community, forging understanding, and facilitating healing.
That is what this digital magazine is all about. The artwork and writing in each installation represent people’s raw and real feelings and experiences since the start of the war.
We will be updating the magazine every month, and we are accepting submissions on a rolling basis. Click here for more information on how to submit. We hope you find some connection and healing from reading this magazine.
The WRITE-HAUS team
Our sky only beautiful when it is dangerous in
copper torrents my feet tread intimately with
nonsense often intrigued by those bright green
eyes on top of His
lit cigarette under drizzling rain of streetish
atmosphere & can you hear? Wet foxes making love
whilst Our people sit in their dark living rooms
knitting shiva into a fleece of rags?
By the fireplace? You can’t hear it? Whilst the
hostages cross an Egyptian border to
safety, I can hear it
LOST IN TRANSLATION
My baby cousin (who is no longer a baby but an 11 year old boy I once held in my arms) takes my hand in his and leads me behind the house to the backyard that has become a farm. As he feeds the four goats and two sheep and one dog and twelve ducklings, he teaches me that the Hebrew word for pomegranate is the same word for hand grenade. We talk about paper airplanes and remote controlled cars and war but not about school. We pick and eat figs off the tree my mother climbed as a child, and he laughs when I confuse the words shrapnel and eyelashes. He tells me that each time the sirens end, he runs to the field behind the farm to collect the rocket fragments scattered between grass blades. When he shows me, he holds each piece of metal in his palm like a prize you bring the class for show and tell. He asks me how big our bomb shelter is in America. He tells me he is not scared. Not like his sisters who still sleep in their mom’s bed and take short showers. He knows exactly what to do by now. We walk back towards the house carrying fruit in our shirts, my hand still in his. A year from now, I will be somewhere in America where we do not have bomb shelters and my baby cousin will be here. And he will still pick figs and feed the goats and the sheep and the dog that ate the ducklings. He will talk about paper airplanes and remote controlled cars and war. At the same time, someone else picks eyelashes off of an 11 year old boy who is not my baby cousin. And later we will hear about the pomegranate that burst open. How the red stained everything for days.
Pain is familiar here
Yet again I am faced with my cowardness. Although I’m not so sure it’s that anymore; it feels more like paralysis. A strong urge to shut down. A grand tiredness that causes unsettling thoughts. Sometimes my iPhone memories show pictures from the trip in India, and it seems as if these are the only moments my heart gets a break. Yesterday I remembered the mountain. 3,500 m. 3,800 m. 4,000 m. 4,200 m. These are no longer heights upon which to walk or breathe, these are heights where you go up and go on because soon you will start going down. You can go back, but not really: it will take two days. Again, the thought creeps in, but it will already take three, four, five days – so you go on. And it’s beautiful. So beautiful. There is no beauty like that. You see, this beauty is engraved in my mind, it gives me a moment to smile within the inferno. Even though there wasn’t enough air. Somehow there is. But still, you go to sleep early, you walk slowly, and you take many breaks.
My dad thinks I should pursue a career in politics. That there is room for my voice. My mom advises me to go abroad for a while and see how human rights organizations work there, get some air and perspective. Sometimes people ask me, “Wait, don’t you work at that place with the Palestinians?” They say they imagine it must be really hard now, and ask what we do with the kids there, and how do we explain it to them? And I do work at that place with the Palestinians, but now I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about it or not. And I’m not that convinced that there is room for my voice. And if there is, I still haven’t learned how to demand that room. Frankly, if I had a voice, it would have made things easier, but right now all I have is a body, and it’s tired and hurting and in disbelief. The body slices into itself. Its frustrated screams quietly diffuse into its own cells, adding stone after stone on the pancreas, liver, lungs, spleen, kidneys.
Here, in the silence, I might know only a little, but I know what pain is, and it feels like a lot. Other people speak and for a second I feel like I find myself, but not really. How do you explain what Ahavat-Hinam1 is? How do you describe God, and why does each person hear her speak differently?
The streets are talking, commemorating, and fighting, using spray paint and brushes. For a moment there I think maybe I will also speak among them. Yet again I am faced with my cowardness. Although I’m not so sure it’s that anymore, perhaps obedience. A belief in law and order. A sense of respect to the surrounding. This respect is what asks me to pick up the old snack wrapper from the street and put it into the garbage. It is the image of the young scout. The ambulance First Responder. The lonely person who is not afraid. But fear is important. In the summer, in Europe, I told my friends about the situation here2. About how this year during a protest someone tried to run my brother and I over. About how this year during a protest the cops rolled people down the grassy slope of the highway bridge. About how this year during a protest a white car stopped and from it came a driver wearing short pants, a Tassel tank top3 and a knife. Where is my fear? Where are my legs? How are they still walking? How can they still protest?
I am chasing Pandora, asking her to reopen the box. There, we both unleashed hope and it’s now in the air, somewhere 4,200 m high. Here in Israel we don’t have heights like that.
There are horrors they will not understand. There are horrors we will not understand. I have no way to hold all of this suffering. I can hug the person in front of me. What else can I say but “I love”? People are people are people are people. What are you thinking about before you fall asleep? I am not thinking, it is only the wine that makes me feel slightly fine.
1 Ahavat-Hinam in a free translation is simply “free love”, however it is a phrase taken from rabbis such as Rabbi Yehezkel from Kuzmir and Rabbi Isaac Kook. It is a phrase that came as a contrast to free hate, claiming that the only thing that can face hate is love. The only thing that can stand in front of destruction and bring about the building of something new is free love.
2 Before the 7th of October was a year with weekly protests against the government and for democracy
3 A Tassel tank top is a Jewish religious garment for men
ושוב אני ניצבת בפני הפחדנות שלי. למרות שאני לא בטוחה שזאת פחדנות כבר, יותר מרגיש כמו שיתוק. רצון עז להיכבות. תשישות גדולה שגורמת למחשבות מערערות. לפעמים בזיכרונות של האייפון קופצות לי תמונות מהטיול בהודו ונראה שאלה הרגעים הבודדים שהלב שלי מקבל רגיעה. אתמול נזכרתי בהר. 3,500 מטר. 3,800 מטר. 4,000 מטר. 4,200 מטר. זה כבר לא גבהים ללכת או לנשום בהם, זה גבהים שעולים וממשיכים, יודעים שתכף תתחיל הירידה למטה. אפשר לחזור אחורה אבל לא באמת, זה ייקח יומיים. שוב המחשבה מזדחלת, אבל הפעם כבר ייקח שלושה, ארבעה, חמישה- אז ממשיכים. ויפה. כל כך יפה. אין יפה כזה. הנה, היפה הזה חרוט לי בראש, היפה הזה נותן לי רגע לחייך בתוך התופת. אפילו שלא היה אוויר. איכשהו יש. אבל עדיין; הולכים לישון מוקדם, והולכים לאט ועושים הרבה הפסקות.
אבא שלי חושב שאני יכולה וחייבת להיות בפוליטיקה. שלקול שלי יש מקום. אמא שלי ממליצה לי ללכת לחו״ל קצת ולראות איך ארגוני זכויות אדם עובדים שם, לקבל קצת אוויר ופרספקטיבה. מדי פעם שואלים אותי ״תגידי, את לא עובדת במקום הזה עם הפלסטינים?״ וחושבים שבטח זה נורא קשה עכשיו ומה אנחנו עושים שם עם הילדים ואיך אנחנו מסבירים. ואני באמת עובדת במקום הזה עם הפלסטינים אבל אני כבר לא יודעת אם מותר לספר על זה או לא. ואני לא כל כך משוכנעת שלקול שלי יש מקום. ואם יש, אני עוד לא למדתי איך לדרוש את המקום הזה. האמת, אם היה לי קול זה היה מקל על העניינים, אבל כרגע יש לי רק גוף. והוא עייף וכואב ולא מבין ולא מאמין. הוא מפלח בתוכנו, בתוכי ובתוכו, את הצעקות המתוסכלות שלו, מכניס אותן לתאים בלחש, מעמיס על הלבלב והכבד והריאות והטחול והכליות- אבנים.
כאן, בדממה, אני אמנם יודעת מעט, אבל יודעת כאב, וזה מרגיש כמו הרבה. אנשים אחרים מדברים ולרגע אני מרגישה שאני מוצאת את עצמי, אבל גם זה לא באמת. איך להסביר מה זה אהבת חינם, איך מתארים את אלוהים, ואיך זה שכל אחד שומע אותה מדברת אחרת?
הרחובות מדברים, מנציחים ורבים בעזרת ספריי ומכחול, ולרגע אני חושבת שאולי גם אני אדבר בתוכם. שוב אני ניצבת בפני הפחדנות שלי. למרות שאני לא בטוחה שזאת פחדנות, אולי ציות. אמונה בחוק ובסדר. כבוד למרחב. הכבוד הזה הוא שמבקש ממני לאסוף עטיפת חטיף מהרצפה ולשים בפח. זה הדמות של השומרת הצעירה. המע״רית. הבודדה שלא מפחדת. אבל הפחד הוא חשוב. בקיץ באירופה סיפרתי לחברים על המצב פה. על איך שהשנה בזמן הפגנה ניסו לדרוס אותי ואת אח שלי. על איך שהשנה בזמן הפגנה השוטרים גלגלו אנשים למטה מהדשא מתחת ליציאת איילון שדרות רוקח. על איך שהשנה בזמן הפגנה מכונית לבנה עצרה ומתוכה יצא הנהג עם מכנס קצר, גופיית ציצית וסכין. איפה הפחד שלי? איפה הרגליים שלי? איך זה שהן עדיין הולכות? עדיין מוחות?
אני רודפת אחרי פנדורה, מבקשת שתפתח שוב את התיבה. הנה, יחד הוצאנו את התקווה והיא באוויר, איפשהו בגובה 4,200 מטר. פה בארץ אין לנו כאלה גבהים.
יש זוועות שהם לא יבינו. יש גם זוועות שאנחנו לא נבין. אין לי איך להחזיק את כל הסבל. יש לי איך לחבק את האדם שמולי. מה עוד אגיד חוץ מ-״אני אוהבת״? אנשים הם אנשים הם אנשים הם אנשים. על מה את חושבת לפני שאת נרדמת? אני לא חושבת, זה רק היין שעושה קצת נעים.
Layers of The Unseen 01, Photograph
Layers of The Unseen 02, Photograph
Detail 01, Photograph
And for a moment, I want
only my pain to feel. To break
the connection that binds us
by breath and heartbeat.
I ask: Where does my pain end
and yours begin? Where to untangle the end of me
and the start of you? Where to mark
these boundaries of separation?
The mute voice of wisdom whispers: Silly human!
You silly little human.
I grit my teeth. I breathe. I feel my heartbeat.
I breathe. I feel my heartbeat.
I breathe. I feel your heartbeat.
I ask: Where do my love and your love meet?
Where to tangle the ends of me and the starts of you?
Where to heal, where to heal?
Where to hold so I am you and you are me?
We were not born to be good,
we were destined to survive
A box of genes in the world
Formed the self
And self created God
And God saw good
and like in a movie that is shown backward from the end to the beginning
All the good we are
Is in spite,
Photograph by Diana Dawahdi Shalash
Artwork by Mona Haj
It Shall Pass, Ballpoint Pen Drawing edited Digitally
Bring Them Back, Paper Collage/Digital
Dedicated to Dudy Laniado: a dairy farmer who, after hearing of the terror attacks on Kibbutz Nir Oz, risked heavy fire to milk and feed the cows.
Suddenly, you wake up and you mourn the little girl you just met in your dreams.
Suddenly you put down the dish you were washing and ask yourself,
“Who will milk the cows tomorrow morning?”
You are aware that there’s an ongoing hostage situation but –
who will feed the cats?
And you know that people have been slaughtered, you do
but suddenly, while driving to the grocery store, you pull off to the side of the road and you
wonder what will happen to the fruit ripening in the fields, no one there to harvest it, left alone to
fall into the bloodstained earth and rot.
And who will milk the cows tomorrow morning?
They Soon Will Become Angels, Oil on Canvas
They Soon Will Become Angels, Oil on Canvas
Yarden Roman, Digital Illustration
Things That Words Cannot Describe,
I live thousands of miles
away from the war
yet the bombs that fall
shatter the peace here
the same way they shatter
the buildings in Gaza.
And though I don’t watch
the images on TV of
the crumbled concrete
blocks or the bodies
of the dead dragged
out of the rubble,
I weep for the lives lost,
especially for the children.
Each day the war goes on
and more people are killed
and more people die and
there’s more destruction,
each day is another lost
opportunity to seek peace,
to end the madness.
And here I sit at my desk
thousands of miles away
praying for the hostages
held captive for weeks—
not knowing if they’re still alive,
if they’re being fed and cared for,
not knowing if they’ll be released safely.
I don’t know anything except
that I wish for their safe return
and pray for an end to the killing
and long for peace—a word
no one remembers.
Freedom Rally, Watercolor and Acrylic in sketchbook
Freedom Rally, Watercolor and Acrylic in sketchbook
even our tears will fill the trunk of a tree
The planet is healing
and like all fevers before
they break, it rises from
core to mantle where
picture frames line a mass ofrenda
populating every day with enemies.
Murder means nothing to the soil that
Bring Me Back, Paper Collage
Freedom Now Rally, Watercolor and colored pencils in sketchbook
Bring Them Home 1, Acrylic Markers in Sketchbook
After October 7th
we were all dead and moving
as if electrocuted
a nation of frankensteins
forced to bring bodies back to life
and with electricity searing
through our veins- electric fence fallen to a puddle-
we began to pray for rain.
please, oh God, rain
to clear blood from roofless homes, rockets
to turn to rain around innocents-
Abraham prayed for the lives of rapists and God said no,
anger rained down on Sodom.
now the rain tastes so salty
of the dust clearing before our eyes,
landing on our speechless,
these are tears,
living, human tears and
the rain is shaking
with the shake of an electric nation.
the rain tastes salty.
the dust will clear.
Abby Yucht is an emerging poet living in Jerusalem, Israel. Born and raised in Teaneck, NJ, she immigrated to Israel with her parents and siblings in 2015. She received her BA in psychology and musicology from Bar Ilan University and is starting an MSW at Hebrew University. Abby works in the field of mental health rehabilitation by day and loves to run poetry groups and workshops for her friends and community members by night. Abby’s most recent work can be found in the magazines Glass Mountain, Poetica, and is forthcoming in Channel.
Aida Bechar is a collage artist, illustrator and graphic designer. Based in Tel Aviv, she was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. As a classically trained artist with old-school Turkish art education, she uses collage as a means to free her creativity and step out of her boundaries. Her process is informed by the absurd, happy mistakes and her love of typography. Aida has exhibited her work in Tel Aviv, Cologne and in New York. She studied Visual Communications in Bezalel Academy and holds an MFA degree in Illustration from FIT, NYC.
Bruce Black is editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. His poetry and personal essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Soul-Lit, The BeZine, Bearings, Super Poetry Highway, Poetica, Lehrhaus, Tiferet, Hevria, Jewthink, The Jewish Literary Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Highland Park, IL (USA).
Daniel Niv majored in Literature and Creative Writing in both Hebrew and English. She works as a professional reader for publishing houses, and is the co-founder and co-editor of Spell Jar Press. She received the Bar Sagi Award for her poetry. You can find her published works in Phantom Kangaroo, Anti-Heroin Chic, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. She is most fascinated with writing poems that are both confessional and referential, writing fiction, and crafting collage-poems in a room full of candles.
Didi Kfir is an illustrator, graphic designer, and pattern maker who graduated from Shenkar College of Design and Art. Born in Israel and currently based in Berlin, they are happy to integrate typography with illustration, applying it across editorial and book illustrations, as well as branding projects. Additionally, she enjoys illustrating through embroidery in their personal endeavors.
Leeor Margalit is studying linguistics at Tel Aviv University. She enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and photographing her friends.
Lior Maayan, born in Israel, lives with his wife near Tel Aviv. He is a hi-tech entrepreneur with Physics & Math background, an IDF Talpiot program graduate, and holds an MSc from the Technion, and an INSEAD MBA. Lior is a member of the 2022-23 Alma-Metanel Fellowship Program and the JTS Schoken Institute program for the arts. He is a graduate of the first Helicon Arabic-Hebrew poetry program & Makom Leshira Arabic-Hebrew Poetry Translation initiative. A Weizmann Institute Life Verse Poetry Laurate, his work has appeared in numerous publications including Granta, Asymptote, Haaretz, Yediot Aharonot, Write-Haus, Nanopoetica, Mashiv Haruach, Kol Alarab (Arabic tr.), OtroLunes (Spanish tr.) etc. His book “That Green” (Dr. Shira Stav editor), was published by Afik Publishing House in 2019.
Marina is an artist, illustrator, and art educator based in Ra’anana, Israel, graduated from an art academy in Belorussia. Sketching is one of Marina’s passions. Everywhere she travels, she takes her sketchbook along with her. But the real essence of urban sketching for her is finding stories in everyday routines and combining sketching with daily tasks like taking care of her children, working, or running errands. “A sketchbook and a simple pen – that is all you need to go on a journey every day. Drawing is seeing, so you just need to open your eyes wider and start to sketch!”
Mona Haj is a recent graduate from a Visual Communication department. Her work is personal and expressive, addressing social and political issues. She frequently integrates her own body into her creations, adding a sense of openness and vulnerability to her work. By delving into her emotions, she aims to foster empathy for her subjects. As a Palestinian woman in Israeli society, Mona navigates the complexities of her identity and the ongoing conflicts, which she continually reflects in her art.
Moriya was born in Ukraine, where she received an art education. She currently works and lives in Israel. Moriya specializes in realism; she draws inspiration from the beauty of simple lines and the idealism of nature. Her passion lies in exploring the depths of the human soul, skillfully capturing its emotions through eloquent body language.
Ronit Joy Holtz (b. 1997, United States) is a painter and an installation artist. She completed a B.F.A in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design in the spring of 2019. In her emerging years as an artist, Ronit has participated in many exhibitions, been featured in galleries and private collections in over 15 countries and states. She currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel as a permanent studio artist and atelierista (art teacher). Ronit’s recent studio work is about healing through trauma, loss and grief. In the studio she explores ways to tap back into pain, but to cope with it in creative ways using mixed media and found objects infused with nostalgia and personal sentiment.
Sarina Shohet (she/her) is a Berkeley grad and Jewish professional dedicated to the expression of magic.