In Israel — and especially in Jerusalem, where I am living — grief is a public affair. Call me morbid, but it’s one of my favorite things about this place.
Posted on walls and in shop windows, sometimes layered dozens deep, stark, black-on-white mourning notices announce recent deaths and, sometimes, where the family will be observing the traditional Jewish mourning period. Imported from the Eastern European broadside tradition, each of these posters is a little island of sadness in a sea of noise.
…So amid the horrific murders in recent weeks of two children — one Palestinian, one Jewish — my friend Romy Achituv, an artist and native Jerusalemite, and I designed mourning notices in Hebrew and in English, the two languages most spoken by Jews here, for Ali Saad Dawabshe, 18 months old, and Shira Banki, 16….
From the beginning, we saw this project more as social engagement than as art, but the range of emotions it has sparked in people we spoke to and heard from, from rage to gratitude, certainly has something in common with art. If there’s one positive takeaway from this period of nightmarish violence, it’s that small, individual actions might actually make a difference in how people see the world. And that perhaps grief and even outrage have a role in healing the fissures.
From Ilana Sichel , “In Praise of Public Grief,” ModernLoss.com, August 16, 2015.