Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Story of "Trees" Part One.

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As the cartoonist who drew the daily Dry Bones cartoons in the Jerusalem Post my job was to comment on the news of the day. But I wanted to do more. I wanted to explain why I had moved to Israel. I wanted to explain myself, my people, our history, the Biblical prophecies that spoke to us and our hopes for the future. But how would or could I do that?
First Contact:
It was early morning and I had gone for a stroll along Jerusalem’s Emek Refaim Street. I plopped myself down on a bench and took out my sketch pad and pen. Across the street from me stood an old olive tree. I began to draw it. I traced every line of its gnarled trunk. I fell deeper and deeper into the task, copying each branch, following each line of its beautifully twisted branches and twigs. I was totally absorbed by the act of drawing.
Suddenly my concentration was broken by noisy crowds of running, pushing, and shouting children. I had not noticed that my bench was at the entrance to a grade school whose morning bell unexpectedly rang out. And the kids were gone, swallowed up inside their school building. Quiet returned and I returned to my sketching.
But now the quiet was broken by buses, cars, taxis, and trucks, belching fumes and honking their horns. The traffic now pushed and chugged its way along the road that lay between me and the olive tree. As the morning wore on chatty moms pushing baby carriers and strollers began to crowd the sidewalk; on their way to stores and coffee shop meetings with friends. Bell-ringing bicycles and the growl of occasional scooters added to the threat to my communication with the tree.
It was at this point that I thought. “They are the rootless ones. They are blown in the wind like dry fallen leaves.” I was seeing the scene through the eyes of the olive tree.
And so began a year-long process in which I would dutifully write and draw the story of my people, our history, the Biblical prophecies that spoke to us and our hopes for the future, as dictated to me by the Trees. I never planned the book, I never edited the book, I simply wrote the words that the trees spoke to me and drew the images that the trees showed me. In the end I called the book “Trees; The Green Testament.” It was the title that they had chosen.
To be continued

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