April 22, 2024
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Geula Twersky: Painting the Story of Israel

Artist and educator Geula Twersky is the product of two very different experiences—on one side she is the child of a Holocaust survivor and on the other, she is the grandchild of one of the founders of the State of Israel and signatories of its Declaration of Independence. These two narratives play an important part in Twersky’s life, and the merging of these two worlds finds its expression in her artwork.

A resident of Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion, Twersky made aliyah from Monsey in 2006 along with her husband and nine children. Their tenth child and “sabra baby” was born two years after they made aliyah.

Since she has been a child, Twersky has been bringing her imagination to life through pen and paint. In her teenage years, she dreamed of being a professional artist, but put these aspirations aside after she got married, thinking this was an unrealistic fantasy that could not bear reasonable fruits. But when she was expecting her first child, she had a craving for crayons that she could not ignore, a craving that would slowly translate into wall paint and rollers and eventually canvases and paint brushes. Her dream chased her, and this time she did not shut it down.

Her artwork takes on many different styles, mixing realism, impressionism and expressionism. It is also very personal. “I paint about my experience as a Jewish woman,” Twersky said. “I think I convey the very strong and powerful emotions of a person who has come back to our land and is overwhelmed by the color and fulfillment of prophecy.”

Indeed, this theme of revival is captured in Twersky’s paintings, which reflect the colorful Land of Israel, the rich tapestry and cultures that make up the people of Israel, and the traditions of the Torah of Israel. Twersky believes that her works push Jewish art beyond the cliché of what she calls is “chasidic men dancing or learning.” She aims to provoke thought and discussion. She will often see an image that inspires her and will convey the emotions behind that image through her art. In one painting, she juxtaposes an image of a Holocaust survivor taken by photographer Roman Vishniac with an image of Israeli paratroopers at the Kotel, who are separated by the flame of a Havdalah candle. The expressions on the faces of the men representing different periods of Jewish history convey the message: from darkness to light, from exile to redemption.

Living in Israel has certainly had an influence on Twersky’s artwork, which over the years has become more colorful and abstract, reflecting her own personal journey. “Coming to Israel opened up a lot of those possibilities for me,” she explained. “I became more keenly aware of the differences and the different possibilities in how to be a Torah observant Jew. I think that that freedom and that ability to choose different forms of expression definitely came through in my artwork.”

In Israel, Twersky has balanced her career in art with one as an educator, often merging the two. She lectures in various academic and religious institutions. Her most recent book, “Torah Song: The Theological Role of Torah Poetry,” explores the theology of biblical poetry, using her background as an artist to interpret the various styles of poetry exhibited in the Torah. Though she still aspires to be a full-time artist, she is also aware of the limitations in Israel and the lack of funding available for artists.

Twersky achieved a major milestone in her career in 2007 when she was awarded Israel’s highest honor for excellence in art for Israeli immigrants. This award led to two exhibition opportunities, one with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption in celebration of International Women’s Day and one at the Knesset, an experience that Twersky describes as “very, very moving.”

Today, Twersky has a gallery in the Cardo of Jerusalem’s Old City where she sells her paintings. In addition to her regular works, she is focusing more on the role of the woman in Judaism, as well as self-portraits—what she sees are expressions of her desire to be true to her authentic self and paint not just for commercial purposes. She aims to have a solo exhibit one day and fill an entire hall exclusively with her works. But she is also pleased to spend the whole day on her own, with paint brush in hand and her mind intent on a vision for a desired result. “I think I always want to paint the next painting,” Twersky summarized with a smile.


For more information on Geula Twersky’s artwork visit geulaart.com or email [email protected]

Alisa Bodner is a Fair Lawn native who immigrated to Israel a decade ago. She is a nonprofit management professional who enjoys writing in her free time.

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