Feast Your Eyes Upon Orit Arfa’s Literary Works

On Tishu B’Av 2001, Orit Arfa came to my hovel and gave me a bracha.

She told me she was working on a book on Genesis.

I was fascinated. I wanted to learn more about her views on the first book of the Torah.

I wanted to study it with her.

I wanted to make her my rebbe.

Unlike most men, I was far more interested in Orit’s mind than her body.

The vessel will decay and fade away but her soul will live forever.

As part of my preparation for the Sabbath, I was just checking out OritArfa.net and found these inspirational messages:

Orit Arfa was born and raised in Los Angeles. She immigrated to Israel in 1999. She has lived in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Orit is now based in Jerusalem where she works as a journalist covering travel, lifestyle, nightlife, arts and entertainment and politics. In addition to writing, Orit paints large scale Biblical portraits.

Orit is a regular correspondent for The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Her articles and columns have also appeared in Israel Insider, Israel21.com, Israel National News, The Forward, New Jersey Jewish News, and The Jewish Chronicle. Orit has already developed a respectable legion of loyal readers and fans.

In the past Orit has worked as a publicist for The Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, The Israel Museum and Muzik School of Creation and Production in Tel Aviv.

She holds an M.A. in Bible and Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary and is an independent scholar of the work and ideas of Ayn Rand. She has studied art at Mission Renaissance, UCLA, and Yeshiva University.

Orit’s Debut Novel: The Dance of Dawn

Orit’s debut novel, The Dance of Dawn, tells the story of Sarah “Shachar” Dakar, a 21-year old resident of Gush Katif, an agricultural settlement bloc in Gaza, who is forcefully evacuated with her family from her home as part of Israel’s Disengagment from Gaza in 2005. The evacuation creates within Sarah a crisis of faith– in her country and in God—for how could the Jewish State and her God destroy a vibrant Jewish community?

Sarah discovers Atlantis, the hottest Tel Aviv nightclub—a perfect place for her to actualize her rebellion and escape the pain of her loss. To enter this new, liberal world of freedom, music, sexuality, and style, she suppresses her settler past and develops a romance with the “king of nightlife”, Ziv Harel, owner of Atlantis. A series of tragedies hit Atlantis that force both Sarah and Harel to examine their choices and deep-seated values.

Dael Mark, Sarah’s cousin and talented musician, encourages Sarah to develop her voice and never to hide who she is. DJ Elman, the resident DJ of Atlantis, encourages Harel to be the father of a new, vanguard culture in Tel Aviv in which Jewish values and Zionism play no part.

What happens when the world of Gush Katif and the world of Tel Aviv nightlife collide?

About The Dance of Dawn

The Dance of Dawn was first conceived in 2002 as a modernization of The Book of Esther. Since then it has undergone many incarnations and revisions. In addition to drawing from The Book of Esther, the novel has also been inspired by a more modern classic, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.

Orit’s Future Works

Currently Orit is working on a literary comparison of The Book of Esther and The Fountainhead as well as a futuristic novel set in Israel inspired by Atlas Shrugged. Her long-range works include a philosophical exegesis of the Book of Genesis and central passages of the Book of Deuteronomy that formulate a systematic, individualistic interpretation of Judaism.

Since 1996 Orit has embarked on a series of biblical portraits. Each painting takes years to complete (taking into account breaks in the painting process), and each canvas seeks to express visually and artistically the artist’s views, values, and visions. In addition, Orit has painted a variety of other portraits, landscapes, and still-lifes.

 

Rebecca, 2000, Oil on canvas, 100 x 100 cm

Orit’s first Biblical painting portrays the Biblical heroine Rebecca as she draws water from the well to give to Abraham’s servant, who was sent to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac.

Queen Esther, 2002, Oil on canvas, 110 x 160 cm

Using her feminine grace and sexuality, Queen Esther convinced the decadent King Ahasuerus to avert a plot to murder all Jews in ancient Persia. Noticing many similarities between parties described in the Biblical story of Esther and nightclub raves, Orit chose to paint Queen Esther as "Queen of Nightlife" in a modern nightclub setting. The world of Ahasuerus and the world of nightlife both glorify beautiful women, drinking, and hedonism. The painting combines iconic images from ancient Persian architecture with images from the contemporary nightclub.

Pinchas, 2002, Oil on canvas, 135 x 165 cm


And when Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Israel to the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. And the plague that struck the children of Israel ended. (Numbers 25: 7-9)

Orit’s saddening personal experiences in Israel during the tragic Intifada prompted her to paint her first politically-tinged painting. Pinchas, her first male portrait, is filled with paradox and provocation – it contains political messages associated with the religious camp, but using erotic images acceptable to the more liberal, secular sensibilities. Pinchas committed a seemingly brutal act, but was it justified in light of all the lives he saved? At what point is the use of force a desired and moral option?

(Due to the sensitive nature of this painting, a portion of the photograph is covered by Orit.)

Michal, daughter of Saul, wife of David, 2007

Self Portrait, 1996, Oil canvas, 45 x 50 cm

Contact Orit via e-mail:

To view Orit’s articles in The Jewish Journal archives, click here:

To view a listing of articles which appeared in The Jerusalem Post, click the below link. The Jerusalem Post charges an access fee per article, so if you would like to receive a free link to the article, please contact Orit.

 

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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