Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Tribes of Judah and Dan create art together after millennia apart

Yesterday, March 9, 2016, I lectured to students of the arts at Emunah College in Jerusalem about the creative process. They were descendants of Bezalel of the tribe of Judah scattered throughout the Jewish Diaspora and Oholiav of the tribe of Dan from Ethiopia. I witnessed the Zionist miracle, as students from backgrounds in Europe, America, and Muslim lands joined with students from Ethiopia in creating artworks like they had done millennia ago when they worked together to create the Tabernacle (mishkan).

emuna 034

My wife, Miriam, and I created the “Zionist Miracle” post text that can be accessed with all the photographs at the blog “Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life” . We created the blog to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage by collaborating on the “Torah Tweets” blogart project that developed into the book, Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life (

The final portion of Exodus, Pekudei/Reckonings, is read from the Torah scroll on Shabbat, March 12, 2016.

Exodus 11: Zionist Miracle: Daughters of Bezalel and Oholiav Create Art in Jerusalem

Pekudei/Reckonings (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

“Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur of the tribe of Judah did all that God commanded Moses.  With him was Oholiav ben Ahisamakh of the tribe of Dan, a carver, weaver, and embroiderer using sky-blue, purple and crimson wool, and fine linen.” (Exodus 38:22, 23)

The book of Exodus began with the miracle of freeing the Israelites from slavery and draws to an end with the completion of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle was a major collaborative art project under the aesthetic direction of 2 master artists from the tribes of Judah and Dan.

This great biblical miracle pales in comparison to the Zionist miracle in our time that we too often fail to see.

The Exodus story tells of liberating one nation of thousands from enslavement in the one country of Egypt after hundreds of years of exile.

We are living the liberation of millions of Jews from scores of countries after thousands of years of exile, bringing them home to Israel.

Being an integral part of this Zionist miracle, unprecedented in world history, offers enthralling creative opportunities for an artist.

I have the amazing privilege as Head of Emunah College School of the Arts in Jerusalem to teach descendants of both Bezalel and Oholiav.

Creative young women from the tribes of Judah and Dan work together there in degree programs in art, graphic design and theater.

My students from the tribe of Dan were flown out of Ethiopia to join their brethren from the tribe of Judah as fellow artists.

In the 16th century, David Zimra, Chief Rabbi of Egypt, declared that “those who come from Ethiopia are without a doubt the tribe of Dan.”

In 1973, Ovadia Yosef, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, confirmed the Jewish identity of the Beta Israel Ethiopian community as being the tribe of Dan.

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.