The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Artists around the world unite in support of Israel: The Star of David social media page seeks to spread love, understanding, and truth.

A local graphic designer knew that she could not effectively reach people by reacting in anger to the events of Oct. 7, so she decided to use love and kindness instead. 

Franklin resident Ellen Monen created The Star of David, a social media page of collective art that she said seeks to inform about Judaism and Israel, at the end of January. Not even two months later, the group has amassed 118 artists from five different countries. 

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Robbie Lasky’s painting of a koi fish is part of the Star of David social media project.

Monen was able to connect to local artists through Jewish Franklin, a group she created to meet other Jewish community members. 

“It’s just kind of how Jewish geography works,” Monen said in an interview. “We’re artists; we all have our own networks and connections. Those networks are not even always people we’ve worked with.” 

Those involved in contributing to The Star of David include a “huge range” of artists — painters, ink artists, caricature artists, digital artists, fashion designers, visual sound artists, musicians, and pastry chefs — and journalists, podcasters, event planners, rabbis, and history teachers and professors who specialize in Israeli studies, according to Monen. 

The art featured on the page consists of a variety of abstract and realist paintings, collages, paper cutting, charcoal drawings, wearable art, graphic design, and digital art. Each piece of art is overlaid with text that conveys a message about Judaism and Israel. 

Robbie Lasky, a retired teacher living in Nashville, now creates art full time. One post features her painting of koi fish swimming in a pond, underneath text that reads, “I’m Jewish, and hate is not part of my vocabulary. That is why you don’t see me hating on any races or religions right now, even on the days when I’m angry.” 

Lasky said Monen asked her to share her art after the two became friends on Facebook. 

“I was impressed with what [The Star of David] had done … that there was an opportunity to use art to get their messages across. I thought that was a great idea and I wanted to be a part of it,” Lasky said. “A lot of my paintings are getting a second chance to do something totally worthwhile.” 

Monen, who owns and directs a branding and graphic design studio, said she uses these artistic skills for The Star of David. 

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“Sometimes I come up with ideas. Other times, people feed them to me. Something inspires each one. Something we see or read, or even the emotions we feel — and then I create the graphic message around it,” Monen said of her posts. “I find the art that works best with the message.” 

She added that she hopes to correct the narrative surrounding Israel by sharing fact-based posts online and combat misinformation. 

“There are a lot of people I like to call kind-hearted souls who have chosen terror inadvertently because they’ve trusted what they see out there, mostly in propaganda, but sometimes even in the media; sometimes even the media can be really biased,” Monen said. “We’re trying to spread the message of what’s really going on with the Jewish people and with Israel.” 

What’s really going on, Monen said, is a humanitarian crisis to which the world should pay attention. 

“Some of [my posts] are just thought-provoking ideas to help people understand that this is a humanitarian crisis, that Israel is no longer allowed to defend themselves,” Monen said. “If it's okay with you that Israel can't defend themselves against atrocities that happened like Oct. 7, then what's going to happen when the same thing happens in your community?” 

She added that the Israel-Hamas war is not limited to Gaza. 

“There’s a bigger picture to this. If you don’t like Israel, fine. If you don’t like Jews, fine. What happens when this hits you? If they allow this sort of stuff to continue, that’s what will happen,” Monen said. “This is a bigger humanitarian issue than just a political issue or an antisemitic issue.” 

Elana Drasin, owner of Sugar Magnolia Bakehouse, creates edible art from her Spring Hill home. In March, her batch of superhero-themed sugar cookies was featured with the message, “Brave artists band together in an effort to save the world with the raw, honest and kind truth. Why? Because nobody else is doing it.” 

Monen said she tries to stick to factual and emotional messaging rather than messaging that comes from a place of anger when it comes to posts for The Star of David. 

“What you might notice, if you've paid attention to many of the social media accounts that are pro-Israel, is that they're written by people who are very passionate about what's going on, but they're written in anger. And they should be; we all have a right to be angry right now because the whole world is terrorizing our entire population and it's really scary. Anger is the rational way to respond. But we are doing everything in our power not to post in anger because anger only attracts the angry,” Monen said. 

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Monen said she vetoes any strong language that an artist might suggest for a post, in favor of using kinder words to address the masses and try to remain unbiased. She emphasizes the importance of “heartfelt art”: “This is real art that people are spending a lot of time creating.” 

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Lasky said the visual aspect of art draws attention to the page’s message, which hopefully leads viewers to think critically. 

“I feel like it’s an asset to the Jewish community,” Lasky said. “This page, I hope that more people follow it. … I think that the art causes the people to stop and read it rather than if it was just words.” 

Monen and Lasky both said they hope The Star of David has a positive impact on its viewers. 

“Everything is love-centered, because there’s a lot of nastiness out there,” Monen said. 

 

 

You can see the artists’ work on Instagram at @starofdavidartists and Facebook at The Star of David.