Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Jerusalem Day is Shirel’s birthday

My granddaughter Shirel from Yeroham is on the left next to cousins from Sderot and Dimona. The photo was taken on Jerusalem Day 2019 at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem on Shirel’s 25th birthday. It is based on the iconic photo of the first Israeli soldiers to reach the Kotel in 1967 when Jerusalem was liberated after the 2,000 year occupation by foreign powers from the Romans to the Ottomans.

In celebration of her birthday on Jerusalem Day, my wife Miriam and I invited Shirel to be the guest blogger in our “Bible Blog Your Life” blogart project.  Each week for a year, Miriam and I studied the weekly Torah portion and posted photographs with Twitter texts that relate the Torah reading to our lives that week.

Our project developed into my book Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media teaches people of all faiths how to create a Bible blog their own lives.  It invites them to craft a dialogue between their emerging life stories and the enduring biblical narrative.

Guest blogger Shirel created the “Jerusalem Means Seeking Peace” post based upon the Torah portion Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) read in synagogues the week of her birthday. You can see her post with all the photographs at Below is her guest blog with three of the photos.

Numbers 2: Jerusalem Means Seeing Peace

Naso/Lift up (Numbers 4:21-7:89) Jerusalem Day/Yom Yerushalayim

Guest blogger for Naso/Yom Yerushalayim is our creative granddaughter Shirel Alexenberg who was born on Jerusalem Day.  She celebrated the liberation of Jerusalem by photographing the Old City in Jerusalem.  Her name Shirel is written with the same Hebrew letters as Israel.     

May God bless you and safeguard you.  May God make His countenance enlighten you and grant you grace.  May God lift His countenance to you and grant you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

An imperviousness to God’s intervention in history plagues our generation.  A series of wondrous events is taking place before us. Yet blind eyes fail to see the hand of God and deaf ears fail to hear the Divine call guiding history. (Rabbi A. I. Kook, Chief Rabbi of Israel during the first half of the 20th century)

Liberate people who are blind though they have eyes and deaf though they have ears.  (Isaiah 43:8)

Shirel photographed the 17th century Raban Yohanan Ben Zakai Synagogue rebuilt after having been demolished by the Arabs in 1948.

It stands on the site of the Beit Midrash of Yohanan ben Zakai who established the Sanhedrin after the destruction of the Second Temple.

On the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount are huge stones from a massive arch wrecked by the Roman legions 2 millenia ago.

Today, Israeli flags adorn walls of the rebuilt Jewish Quarter of the Old City to celebrate the anniversary of restored Jewish sovereignty.

Only the Jews have made Jerusalem its sovereign capital since King David moved it from Hebron three millennia ago.

In 1967, Israel restored its sovereignty over all of Jerusalem after liberating it in a war waged by the Arabs to annihilate Israel.

Meir Yehuda Getz, late Rabbi of the Western Wall, restored the Yohanan Ben Zakai Synagogue and Beit El Kabbalists’ Yeshiva in Jerusalem that he headed.

Shirel’s father Rabbi Ron Alexenberg studied at this yeshiva with its current head Rabbi Yisrael Avihai from Yeroham where Shirel grew up.

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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