It’s very difficult to designate a genre of a picture of the well known Israeli artist, Alex Levin “Welcome to Jerusalem”, at first sight. What is it a modern Jerusalem or Jerusalem from the remote past? Maybe, the city of the future? Most likely as it can often be observed on Alex’s paintings, the history here intertwines with the present, reality with dreams of the future about which religious Jews ask in daily and festive prayers.
In the center of the picture are three individuals who represent three generations, most likely the grandfather, father and the son. Probably they are inhabitants of Jerusalem, but might as well be both pilgrims, and repatriates. They could arrive here from any Russian town of the pale of settlement. Or maybe, these three escaped from the fire of Holocaust? Or they can simply be the ghosts of those who, unfortunately, couldn’t escape and burned to ashes on the open spaces of such hospitable, until recently, Europe? The clothes of the people represented in a picture of Alex, are traditional – that’s how orthodox Jews dressed two and three hundred years ago in Eastern Europe, same way they dressed today in Bnei-Brak and in the Jerusalem quarter Mea Shearim.
On Alex Levin’s paintings Jerusalem doesn’t go beyond the walls of the Old city. There are no new houses, pavement and cars; there is no tension or feeling of fear. But the clouds that are running over the city are illuminated by the predawn sun. It ascends in the east, from that side where the Temple once stood and where the Golden Gates of Mercy – “Shaar Harahamim”. Many centuries back, Muslim governors of the sacred city ordered to block these gates with a stone in order to not allow Meshach’s arrival, but can it be a halt for it?
But, most likely, the light on the horizon is a new third eternal Temple, and people represented in the painting are walking towards it … Walking and waiting for the one who will restore the Temple and will return all Jews to the Holy Land. And, at last, the most courageous assumption: one of two men in a painting is a Mashiach and for this reason the painting is called “Welcome to Jerusalem”, and Alex is welcoming him to the sacred city.
However, even if our assumptions are incorrect, and Mashiach didn’t approach to walls of Jerusalem yet, you shouldn’t despair. Each of us can arrive to this holy city and see it the way it’s reflected on Alex Levin’s painting. As long as you want it very much …
Researcher of the Jewish Heritage and Journalist, Israel