A number of years ago, I discovered a wonderful artist at a crafts festival in Montgomery County, Maryland. The artist is John Akkus, and he makes beautiful Judaica using the art of metal spinning.
What I didn’t know was that John, a Turkish Muslim artist, taught himself to make, of all things, Judaica art!
Here is an example of a beautiful, intricate menorah from John that we saw yesterday at the Capital Art and Craft Festival.
And here are some of John’s engraved circular boxes with shalom, a dove of peace, chai, and a Star of David.
When I asked John how he got involved in making Jewish artwork, he told me that this is what his clients were asking for, and he was happy to answer the call for his Jewish customers and friends.
When I saw John and his lovely wife at the festival yesterday, he immediately gave me a big hug and told me we were brothers. He explained beautifully that it doesn’t matter that he is Muslim and I am Jewish, because we are all one!
I genuinely feel not only the talent and beauty of John’s artistic creations but also the love that he has for his friends, and it doesn’t matter what their religion is. We are brothers because we are friends and respect each other. Maybe this is the bridge that art can create between people, but it also takes special people to recognize that we are indeed brothers and sisters, all of us!
My hope and prayer is that this is just a small microcosm of friendship and peace that can spread in all communities, societies, nations, and lands, so that we are no longer black or white, Jew, Muslim, or Christian, or any other divisive label, but rather that we are all children of G-d, and plain and simple, friends.