Home Visual Arts The Naked and the Dead.

The Naked and the Dead.




It is my experience that at most Israeli advocacy events, a whole mess of Jewish people congregate together, hiding from their goy friends and shiksa girlfriends, listening to the same true, but tired, facts and pretending to be artsy, cool and hip in the hopes of seeing a co-religionist naked. Artists 4 Israel’s inaugural (S)kin event, a monthly, meaningful, life-drawing class featuring nude, Israel models, was exactly the opposite. From the beginning, the Jewish girls were already naked. The attendees, a majority of whom, if circumcised, were not done so under the auspices of a Rabbi, were, actually, artistic and, the facts were living, breathing, posing models of truth.

Described as the “Shapes and Sizes” version of (S)kin, the program intended to highlight the broad, multi-cultural population of Israel. As Seth Wolfson, one of the event organizers said in his 2 minute introductory speech (and kudos to any Jewish leader who can keep it short and sweet), “Israel is a diverse and beautiful community.” That community seemingly includes a number of attractive individuals from a languid, Latina beauty representing the Sephardim, to a shockingly forceful, Ashkenazi, Dita Von Teese lookalike with jet black hair, deadly pale skin and swollen nipples. A bright red-head with a soft physique represented the increasingly important Russian community of Israel (her gun tattoo told the same story) and a dark-skinned Ethiopian model demonstrated the breadth of Israel’s civil rights protections.

As Craig Dershowitz, President of Artists 4 Israel, told me in private, Israel provides equal protection under the law for all her citizens, regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation or race. His was a short, but intense, political message that you could tell is the motivating force behind this event.

But, politics was not allowed the time or space to trump the artistic considerations of the afternoon. Led by Doug Brega, a renowned watercolorist known more for his renderings of New England landscapes and portraiture then for his erotic drawings, the class was packed with artists taking their craft seriously…almost. Some were professionals, including graphic designers, well-paid cartoonists and employed (in this Obamian new world quarter, that is saying a lot) illustrators. Others were less professional, including graffiti and street artists, the aesthetically curious and novices who had fun comparing their creations. 

I overheard two first-timers playing a game of “clouds” trying to figure out which body part of which model the other had drawn. Doug’s criticisms were thoughtful and geared toward the experience level of each participant. He did not make a political comment throughout, leaving himself the time and energy to transfer what he could of his artistic talent to the eager audience. When he had concluded and as the models wrapped themselves back up in their 1970’s porn-era robes, Jenny Kagan, another director of Artists 4 Israel gave a short closing speech. She encouraged the audience to research Israel’s diversity on their own. Like Doug, she taught by nudges and encouragement.

It was this same intensity of purpose yet subtlety of delivery that distinguished this event from the schmaltzy, grown-up Bar Mitzvahs of most Jew-pow-wows and/or Israeli love-ins. Don’t get me wrong – there were the obligatory parting gifts, soap and other bath items by Sabon but, like the event itself, the gifts represented the best of Israel in New York.

Had a nebbishy, Woody Allen fan walked into Beauty Bar, packed by the tattooed, long-haired, Jews who populated its bar stools for hours past the last model closed her perfectly coiffed vagina, drinking PBR and debating the RealID act, he would have been sent home.

For the unaffiliated Jews and the non-Jews who support Israel that attend Artists 4 Israel events, being Jewish is neither being naked or dead. Being Jewish is about being alive, in all its creative, passionate possibility. These are the Norman Mailer’s of advocacy, macho, powerful and sublimely unique for their time.  



  1. jewish women are hot……..no doubt about it……. what is even hotter is a female jewish soldier……..oh yeah…….

  2. also it ranged from cute obviously goy-toy boys to one or two w a kippa – and artists are pretty hot

    yes yes a much more shallow reason to show up

  3. As an artist working with Artists 4 Israel, I’m constantly amazed at the quality of their organization. I think this article shines such a positive light on the truth in what they do.

  4. Ignoranceisnotbliss is right, I want to check this group out too, I attended this life drawing class and it was nothing but a soothing Sunday afternoon, with some cold beer, life drawing therapy, and funky jazz acoustics in the background. There was no propaganda, just simply an organization showing the beauty of Israelis women with artists in attendance of all ethnicity’s to participate. Anyone who has anything negative to say, and I’m sure whom didn’t attend the class, seems to be using this blog for THEIR own propaganda, it’s sad really. It seems like PEACE is what is hoped for in the middle east, and how can the middle east ever find it when ignorant people here speak like loose cannons about something they know nothing about. I would love to know if “Farah” has ever even been to the middle east or is stuck reading the BBC and other swayed news reports? Anyway, Artists 4 Israel, I think you are doing a beautiful thing, stay up!

  5. Damn this looks awesome. Never heard of these guys before but it sounds like a great organization. I’m an artist (in my spare time) and hate that people associate me with being anti-Israel just because I’m good with a brush. I’m gonna check these guys out.

  6. Farah,

    For a group of people doing the Jews of what you accuse, they are doing an awfully terrible job at it. Global domination? In the form of what – the tiniest parcel of land in the middle of the most arid desert? A land that they themselves have rehabilitated and made an oasis of milk and honey. A beautiful democracy with equal rights for all in the middle of a larger neighborhood where terrorist dictators are the norm? A country with a supreme military that spends most of its time trying to figure out how to defend itself from very real threats yet how to do so in the most humane way possible – showing more care for their enemies then their own people do. If this is global domination, someone in their organization should really re-define the mission statement.

    Maybe the Arab overlords who continue to keep their people down and subjugate the “Palestinians” for the sake of creating an Israeli boogeyman so that their poor, underprivilged citizens don’t turn on them and riot as we see happening everyday in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt can teach the Jews about global domination. I mean, after all, it is these Arab murderers who have begun using terror as an acceptable form of political discourse for all the important things: like women’s hemlines, cartoons and other such topics of intense import.

    Or, maybe they can just teach us how to hold natural resources and use them as tools for global manipulation. Israel is too busy teaching the world sustenance farming and environmentally friendly tree-planting techniques.

    Hey Farah – its a good thing you are saying this in an American magazine….we still have freedom of press…unlike in Palestine.

  7. This was a fantastic event and a great way to close a weekend. Doug led the class like a true master and the girls represented the many different ethnicities of Israel. I’ll definitely be attending the next event on May 31 at Sabon.

  8. And here I thought being Jewish meant global domination by way of emotional manipulation and finacial trickeries. I would have never guessed that it meant “alive”. Now if only they could stop killing the Palestinians….

  9. “Being Jewish is about being alive, in all its creative, passionate possibility.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Kudos on making this a reality!

  10. I would welcome a retaliatory Naked Women for Palestinians. And, then, angered by the attention the Middle East is getting, there could be a Nude Italians, Swedish, Germans and so on. But, joking aside, this seems like an incredible event. Truth is that of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only place such a thing could even begin to happen.

  11. The women were hot. The beers were cold. I didn’t get much of a sense of an “advocacy purpose” but I wasn’t paying much attention. Cheap PBR will do that to you.

  12. I really enjoyed this event. Its been a while since I’ve had a chance to attend a sketch class, and it was great to have a chance to do some sketches of live models.

  13. This looks like a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I will def be attending next months class.

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