Healing Arts for Traumatized Israeli Kids

Craig Dershowitz, the founder of Artists 4 Israel, a nonprofit that uses the arts to “beautify the land, uplift the people, and enhance the understanding of Israel through creative humanitarian aid projects,” according to its website, will talk about his organization’s work in a public program on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. 

Artists 4 Israel partners with a variety of artists, with a focus on “contemporary, urban, and disruptive arts,” to achieve its mission while showing support for Israel and Israelis affected by the ongoing conflicts there, particularly along the Gaza border. 

Mr. Dershowitz received a special commendation from the prime minister of Israel and has been awarded the key to the City of Sderot. 

Among the organization’s projects is an effort called Healing Ink, which takes tattoo artists from around the world to Israel to tattoo wounded Israeli soldiers to cover scars caused by war or acts of terrorism or violence. Another initiative has graffiti artists lending their talents to decorate homes, schools, and community centers damaged in violent conflict. 

After Mr. Dershowitz’s talk for adults on Sunday, children in the Jewish Center’s Gates of Learning Hebrew school will help assemble Healing Arts Kits for Artists 4 Israel to distribute in Sderot. That town, according to Edina Segal, the center’s director of Jewish education and family engagement, is the one most traumatized by the ongoing conflict along the Gaza border. The kits were developed by Mr. Dershowitz with mental health professionals, art therapists, parents, and teachers to allow children suffering from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder to express themselves and heal through creative projects. 

The heavily tattooed founder of Artists 4 Israel may not seem the typical speaker for the Jewish Center, but Ms. Segal is confident that adults who come to hear him as well as the young people who work with him afterward will be impressed. “He does incredible work,” she said on Tuesday. 

Ms. Segal, a dual Israeli and American citizen, came to the Jewish Center this summer and has set about enlivening its youth and family programming over the past several months. “It’s not your grandmother’s religious school,” she said. “If you ever want your child to be uninterested in Judaism, just send them to your grandmother’s Hebrew school.” 

The center’s religious school is now teaching not only prayer book Hebrew, but modern-day conversational Hebrew. Children are learning the Hebrew alphabet through yoga poses and how the concepts of yoga relate to Judaism and vice versa.

“Another strong aspect of what we’re doing is taking the weekly Torah portion and helping students apply them to their daily life,” Ms. Segal said.

A light breakfast will be served during Mr. Dershowitz’s talk from 10 to 11 a.m.