Pop Art Rabbi’s take on Pittsburgh

Check out the stunning, evocative art on the cover of this week’s Hanukkah issue of J. The Jewish News of Northern California by Yitzchok Moully.

It combines imagery that evokes the Hanukkah menorah, the 11 lives lost in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the Tree of Life that is the synagogue’s namesake.

cover art for 11/30 issue of J.: a golden sillhouette of a tree on a black, paint-spattered background, with 11 candle-like flames coming off of its branches

Moully is a conceptual artist who brings together hippie and Hasidic backgrounds in his work. Dubbed the Pop Art Rabbi, he worked as a youth rabbi at a Chabad center in New Jersey for 10 years before embarking on his artistic career. Now living with his wife and children in Hillside, New Jersey, he is interviewed widely about his work. He created the painting used on our cover two days after the Pittsburgh shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue, “where eleven souls were killed just for being Jewish and coming to synagogue to pray,” he writes on his website. “I felt moved to create a painting that reflects my feelings and perhaps the feelings of others, to mourn and to celebrate the lives of those who were lost.” He put 11 flames on his tree, one for each of the victims, saying their names out loud as he painted each one. He sells prints of the work on his website and is donating 25 percent of the purchase price to the victims’ families.