Mel Alexenberg
Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Isaiah’s Vision from Israel to Iowa and Abu Dhabi

As an American-Israeli artist, I launched cyberangels from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art to celebrate the Nationwide Bible Marathon on July 14, 2021 that was founded in Iowa by Dianne Bentley three years ago. It has since grown to an international event with participants simultaneously reading from the Book of Isaiah in 72 countries.

Jonathan Feldstein arranged for Israel to take part in the reading marathon through his Genesis 123 Foundation that works to build bridges between Christians and Jews through the Bible they share.

The cyberangels had just returned from their virtual flights from Jerusalem to the United Arab Emirates to celebrate the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate of Israel in Dubai. This historic event brought the Abraham Accords to life by reuniting the descendants of brothers Ishmael and Isaac, Moslem Arabs and Jewish Israelis.

To rejoice in this event of biblical proportions, I launched “Cyberangels of Peace” on flights from the Israel Museum to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai. These cyberangels heralded the realization of Isaiah’s vision:

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2: 4)

Living Isaiah’s vision in the Land of Israel

My book Through a Bible Lens offers biblical insights for our digital culture of smartphones and social media.  It documents our life in Israel, in the land where the biblical narrative unfolds, in the land that the biblical prophecies of the ingathering of the Jewish people is being realized today. Miriam and I sense the privilege of living the visions of the prophets in all that we see and do.

“I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6)

The great biblical miracle of liberating one nation of thousands from enslavement in the one country of Egypt after two centuries of exile pales in comparison with the Zionist miracle in our time of ingathering millions of Jews from a hundred countries after two thousand years and bringing them home to Israel.

I was born in New York of parents born in Boston and New Jersey. My wife Miriam was born in Suriname where the Amazon Jungle reaches the Atlantic Ocean.  Her parents were born in Amsterdam.  We came on aliyah to Israel with our three children Iyrit, Ari and Ron who were born in New York.  Our fourth child Moshe was born in Beersheva.  Iyrit’s husband Dr. Yehiel Lasry was born in Morocco and came to Israel with his family when he was six years old.  He is mayor of Ashdod, Israel’s fifth largest city and its major port, former surgeon-general of the Israeli navy, and member of Knesset.  Ari’s wife Julie was born in Boston, descendent the Jewish sheriff of Tucson in the Wild West.  Ron’s wife Miri was born in Jerusalem.  Her father, a Holocaust survivor, is a rabbi born in Hungary.  Moshe’s wife Dr. Carmit Eliassi Alexenberg is a chemistry professor born in Israel of parents born in Iran.

“Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts … to bring your sons from afar?” (Isaiah 60:8-9).

My daughter Iyrit and her husband were on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport welcoming the arrival of the first El Al Dreamliner from the Boeing factory in Washington State. Painted on the plane was Ashdod in honor of the city’s founding 60 years ago. Watching the plane touch down brought tears to Iyrit’s eyes as she witnessed the miracle of the Jewish people returning home on wings of eagles (Exodus 19:4).  My son-in-law told me that the citizens of his city Ashdod were born in 99 countries.

“When God will return the exiles of Zion, we will have been as dreamers.  Then our mouths shall be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, ‘God has done great things for them!’” (Psalms 126:1-2)

Reading the Bible in the language of digital culture

A number of polls show a growing trend that younger Christians and Jews read the Bible less than their parents and consequently have a diminishing support for Israel. Reading in the rapidly evolving language of smartphones and social media makes Bible study boring to them.  However, I have found that when I translate the Bible from the original Hebrew into the language of digital culture in Through a Bible Lens, this fresh viewpoint sparks an interest in the minds of millennials.

Let’s start with the first words of the Bible translated into English:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

In the original Hebrew language of the Bible, the word et appears twice:

“In the beginning God created et the heaven and et the earth.”

The Hebrew word et is the first creation before heaven and before earth. In translations, et drops out since it has no equivalent in English. It links “created” to “heaven” and “created” to “earth.”  It is spelled aleph-tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Spanning the full set of 22 Hebrew letters from aleph to tav, et represents a prototypic media system used to create a spiritual system called “heaven” and a material system called “earth.”

The ancient Hebrew language is a prototype of media systems used to create spiritual systems like the Bible itself. The Bible invites imaginative ways for exploring interrelationships between media systems, spiritual systems, and material systems.

The digital media system is a binary system of on-off, 1-0, light-darkness.

 “God separated between the light and darkness.” (Genesis 1:4)

“In the beginning” in Hebrew is B’ReiShit, spelled with the same consonants as the word B’ReShet meaning “In the network.”

Read the beginning verses of the Bible in the language of digital culture as:

“In the network of networks (the cloud), God created media systems for creating heaven and earth.  When the earth was absolutely empty and dark, God created light and separated between light and darkness (1 and 0)”

The media system of heaven, the spiritual realm, is written in the Torah with Hebrew letters that form words. The media system of earth, the physical realm, is written with electrons and protons that form atoms and molecules.  The media system of the digital realm returns us to the primeval binary creation of darkness and light, 0 and 1. It is written with the binary digits 0-1 called bits that form bytes.  Every blog, website, video, song, and text that you access from the Internet is written with the binary system of the beginning of Creation.

Cyberangels are created in the binary system and fly from Israel to Abu Dhabi and to Iowa through the Internet.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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