A young British-Israeli with Indian origins and artistic heritage, Solomon Souza, has created special, limited-edition, Rosh Hashanah paintings. Souza is the artist-in-residence for The Israel Innovation Fund (TIIF), an organization creating relevant programs to showcase Israel’s diverse culture.
Souza’s art is well-known in Jerusalem. He has spray-painted most of the shutters in the city’s nearly 100-year-old open air Mahaneh Yehuda market – also known as “the shuk.” The Rosh Hashanah prints are inspired by the upcoming Jewish New Year, wine and incorporate symbolic pomegranate shapes. Pomegranates are full of seeds and in a Jewish context are redolent of the 613 mitzvoth (commandments) contained in the Torah – and particularly symbolic at this time of year.
Souza is TIIF’s first recipient of assistance through its artist-in-residence program, where they support an artist and provide a living wage, plus materials and studio expenses to Israeli artists who have proven success in Israel and embody a fresh artistic message. Souza does live paintings at events, and having witnessed his creations first hand, they are certainly impressive to behold.
TIIF’s flagship program is Wine on the Vine, which encourages people to plant vineyards in top Israeli wineries, while supporting Israeli wineries. One vine costs $18 with majority of the donation money going to the charity of their choosing. In four years time, the donor can visit the winery and taste wine made from its own vine.
For a century or more, one of the ways with which supporting Israel was synonymous was planting trees. Israel has planted more than 130 million trees during that time – one of, if not the only, countries in the world to have a surfeit of trees – but it should not be forgotten that grapes have been grown here for millennia. As it says in Deuteronomy 8:7-8, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.” So it seems natural that vines, which make up an indelible part of Israel’s agricultural heritage, should also now be focused on.
Adam Scott Bellos, TIIF founder and CEO, is strident in his belief that planting vines can be revolutionary. Just as planting trees was used to confer ownership of the land during the period of the early Aliyot of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and beyond, so now a new kind of Zionism requires extensive planting of vines. “Every Millennial today is stuck to their phone; [what we need is for people] to stand with their backs straight and eyes forward.” And Bellos clearly sees himself as the beneficent leader of a young and hungry new Zionist movement, but unlike the StartUp Nation, wedded as it is to high tech and innovation, this one is rooted in agriculture, soil and sweat.
Bellos exclaimed that Souza’s art had “revolutionized Jerusalem culture, creating a new vision of the city with the modern wallpaper of Zionism.”
Signed, high-quality prints on canvas are available.