Bezalel Academy
of Arts and Design
Jerusalem, Israel
History of Bezalel
• Founded in 1906 by Boris Schatz
• Located on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem (as of 1990)
Mission Statement: “to train the people of Jerusalem in crafts, develop original
Jewish art and support Jewish artists, and to find visual expression for the
much yearned-for national and spiritual independence that seeks to create a
synthesis between European artistic traditions and the Jewish design traditions
of the East and West, and to integrate it with the local culture of the Land of
*The school is named after the Biblical figure Bezalel, who was appointed by Moses to
oversee the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 35:30)
Bezalel Academy of Art and Design
Bezalel’s current campus, on Mt. Scopus. Completed only in 1991 -- Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
Bezalel in 1913
Boris Schatz in
WikiMedia Photos – Photographer information is not available
Times of Closure and Reopening:
• 1917 – closes down before the British enter Jerusalem
Faces serious crisis until General Allenby enters Jerusalem in late 1917.
• 1918/1919 – reopens when Schatz’s returns from exile
Schatz exiled by the Turks on suspicion of serving as “fifth columnist”.
• 1929 – closes down due to economic difficulties
Founder dies in USA while on tour with exhibition of works by Bezalel’s artists in 1932.
• 1935 – reopens attracting many teacher and students from Germany
The majority of the teachers and students were from the Bauhaus school which was shut down
by the Nazis and many were enthusiastic about the fact that the reopening was initiated by the
Berlin-based executive committee.
• 1923 – Bezalel Academy is visited by Albert Einstein
• 1946 – Women’s International Zionist Organization
agrees to provide Bezalel with 50% of its budget
• 1958 – Bezalel Academy is awarded with the Israel Prize
• 1969 – becomes a state-supported institution
• Early 70’s – the animation program was established
• 1975 – becomes recognized as an institution of higher education
• 2017 – Bezalel is scheduled to complete construction on a new wing at the academy that will
cater exclusively to Orthodox Jews in order to encourage greater Haredi participation in the
labour market.
According to the National News section in The Jerusalem Post as of January 15th of 2014
This places the entire history of Israeli art into question:
Bezalel has a long and interesting history.
Established prior to the State of Israel.
Theodore Hertzel: was one of the schools
founders (also KKL) for this reason many claim
that the school was used as a tool to spread
Notable Graduates from Bezalel:
Gil Alkabetz
[Bezalel Alum] is a well known animator. He is
also credited as director, writer, producer and editor to
numerous short works. He has been nominated for several
awards on 5 occasions and has won 19 awards since 1997.
Graduates and won awards for their work in Waltz with Bashir:
Yoni Goodman – Art Director
David Polonsky – Animation Director
Ada & Ofeq Bezalel Academy Graduates
The short film we will be screening shortly is titled
“Hearts melt and knees tremble”…
Ada, 27 an is an illustrator and designer
Ofeq 28, entered the academy with nine years
of experience in the television industry
“We tried to put many visual messages
inside the film so that each time you
watch you will be able to find something
else. Many people don’t notice, but we
are also in the movie… as a kind of a
joke… when you are watching it you don’t
have to see us, but if you do – it’s another
layer of the film that can not be unseen.”
We Have Contacted Ada and Ofeq:
The Toosh Team – Ada and Ofeq kindly agreed to an interview in which the
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design was not left without attention.
Why did Ada and Ofeq decide to attend the
Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design?
Here is their reply…
Ada: “I come from what you call a Bezalel family. My great grandfather,
grandfather and father all went to the school… so I grew up around art and had
a lot of background on it. Before I attended Bezalel I was living in Berlin for a
year and thought about studying there because I knew that I wanted to study
animation, but I decided to return to Israel because I felt it was important to talk
about issues in Israeli society… political stuff. Once I returned ‘home’ I felt that I
had come full circle.”
Ofeq: “I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do, I applied to a school for
architecture and passed the tests/interview, but when I was speaking to the
female who conducted my interview she told me that she thinks I should go into
Were There any Experiences that Stood Out to you While you Were
Attending Bezalel?
Ada: “I think when we met each other – I found the department, was confused
between screen based art and directing, but I was more interested in the
technical side of how to be and animator. Once I met Ofeq I felt that I was not
alone and had the strength of two people he supported me in my dreams and
gave me confidence.”
Ofeq: “We both agreed that there was a lot of artistic differences between others
and us and the school teachers. The type of work we were interested in was
different from what the other classmates were interested in. We had to fight for
assistance and guidance from teachers, etc. I always had to take classes outside
of major my major in animation because the program was too narrow for what I
wanted to do – on the other hand everything we learned was from the school so
we have conflicting feelings.”
What was the Greatest Piece of Knowledge that you Gained from
Attending Bezalel in Regards to your Work/Productions?
Ada: “Before attending Bezalel, I didn’t know how to look at a frame or movie
sequence properly and analyze it… like I couldn’t tell what was working and
what was not. In our world, we are always looking at pictures and screens and
now I have the ability to be aware of what I am seeing. There is a lot of power in
this ability to understand that everything is made and that nothing just
appears… commercials/advertisements… POWER OF AWARNESS”
Ofeq: “Generally the main concept was the technological aspect of animation.
How do you do it? How do you approach it?” I always think back to when I was
young and would watch Bugs Bunny… I would wonder how his feet were so in
tune with the music orchestra in the background. That was the basic level of
animation that I wanted to understand.”
Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble
2nd place official jury at the 11 International Student Animation of Brazil, 2014
Official Selections:
Washington Jewish Film Festival, 2015 (coming up soon)
Haifa International Film Festival, 2014
A lyrical and creative animated short about life in Israel, as narrated from
a sinkhole near the Dead Sea.
1.) Why do you think the man is in the hole?
2.) What might be the meaning of this image?
Where did you two gather the inspiration to create the short film Hearts
Melt and Knees Tremble? Were there any political instances that shifted
your perception of where you wanted your work/art to go?
Ada: “Well, in the film Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble we have the concept of
the sink hole and the person that sees all the things around him, but is helpless.
For us it is the same. We are a part of what is going on around us in Israel but we
can’t act or do anything. Ofeq and I had a hard time with how we wanted to
leave the character in the sinkhole by the end of the film. We hoped that he
would find some way to get out, but …”
“We constantly look outside the window of our apartments and joke that we feel
like we are on a boat floating around inside this crazy world. We feel that we are
a part of the reality, but once we enter into our home we are safe and
protected… The problem is that we don’t know how to go out into the streets
because of fear.” … “Just like we didn’t get out and this is our reality the man
will stay in the sinkhole until… well, the ending does leave you with a feeling of
hope.” … “A message of HOPE and HONESTY.”
Where did you two gathered the inspiration to create the short film
Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble? Were there any political instances that
shifted your perception of where you wanted your work/art to go?
Ofeq: “I think that the situation in Israel is very present – we are very politically
aware of what is going on around us – we always follow the news and we REALLY
care. In Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble we tried to refer specifically to things
that were happening around us. I personally was very affected by the Price Tag
Policy. It was for me a new kind of violence on the level of the citizens, not the
government level. It crushed me. I felt very pessimistic. This was for me a battle
of policy/government/organization – hate and fear had reached the people…
people against people… This was new for the Israeli people. We knew it existed
on the Palestinian side… terror… but not on the Israeli side. It was hard for me to
see Israeli citizens trying to take the law into their hands and hurt people outside
of the army and the occupation. For me it was a very big chain of events that
influenced our work.”
The title of the short film - Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble and it’s
Ada: “The title describes a feeling… one that you would feel in your body.”
Ofeq: “We actually chose the title in both Hebrew and English. In Hebrew I used
a passage from the book Nechum. I really liked that it had a sort of playfulness
to it Booka Mevokka Mevokka [Nechum 2:11]. This verse in English translates to
chaos and a mess and we felt that it represented the movie well.
The English name for the short is from the ending of the same sentence in
Nechum – we felt that the name… the meaning completed the film. He, is in the
hole, person is inside it that makes it personal it is personal… although there is
some political satire – we are not there to mock. PERSONAL - we feel that these
things… they are close to us.”
Why did you choose to use the technique you did to make the short?
“Almost the entire short uses the technique of collage – we found this tactic
most effective because we wanted the images to have many layers to them.
There were so many layers to each scene in the short and it was important for us
that people saw that.”
“A collage essentially uses several layers of images and/or materials to create a ‘new’ image and
that is exactly what we were going for in the film.”
“One way to think about the idea of a visual collage is through imaging someone building with
blocks – there is almost always room to continue adding to the lower level and building up.”
Who is this man? What does he
What is happening here?
“We made the cinematic decision
to portray the rich
someone gluttonous who harasses
drinks the
water of the Dead
Sea - yes that is an issue, but
the bartender and
we wanted the scene to be about
how the Dead Sea is being sold
cheaply to the industry with
undertones of harassment.”
What could this be? What might it mean?
KKL Birds? Jets? … What do
they represent?
KKL birds:
represent KKL
forestry. At the same time though
we tied in another idea about how
people in Israel use their leisure
time [going to parks and making
BBQs] causes much NOISE and
POLLUTION. KKL historically is a
form of conquering in a practical
way – they came into Israel and
changed it – the trees were used
to mark the land and what was
considered Israel. A way to map
out the land of Israel.”
What does this character
represent... Are there any
details that stand out to you in
terms of his appearance?
Do you recognize any of
these people ?
List of individuals shown in the ‘traffic jam’:
• Yeshayahu Leibowitz - philosopher/thinker. Outspoken defender of separation between religion and
state. Anti-Zionist. (Orthodox Jew. Very left wing.)
• David Ben Gurion and his wife - the 1st Prime Minster of Israel and was passionate about Zionism.
• Yitzhak Rabin – 5th Prime Minister of Israel and 10th Minister of Defense (assassinated in 1995)
• King Hussain (of Jordan) - signed the peace agreement in 1994
• Eliezer Ben Yehuda - revived Hebrew language/made modern day Hebrew
• Man that drank the water of the Dead Sea
Does anyone
recognize the
man in the car?
Who is he?
The short has several snapshots into contemporary issues in Israeli
society: Why did you choose these particular issues and what were you
trying to convey to your audiences?
Ada: “We wish it would be different in Israel. We don’t want to complain about
the situation, but we want people to pay attention to it, so that maybe one day it
won’t be that way – we want them to walk away thinking: look what is going on
in this crazy place and maybe some of the things you see in the short are
showing you that it is messed up.”
Ofeq: “I think that we tried to do something stupid… and that was to map
everything that upsets us in society into a short film. We feel that we almost can
not think about something that disturbs in society that is not found in the
movie. Some issues are more present and some are less obvious, but we tried to
mix everything that upsets us in society to show that everything is connected.”
When asked if they would like to add something important for us as an
audience Ada and Ofeq replied with this message…
Ada: “There is no right or wrong answer when watching the movie. Of course, if you ask us, we
have the answers to your questions, but it makes us happy that it is open to interpretation so
that viewers can see whatever they want to… if one part connects to you stronger - then use
your own interpretation.”
Ofeq: “Like any art – Hearts Melt and Knees Tremble is layered with messages. The movie has in
it many messages, but each time it is watched you see more and more layers are there.”
Did either of you ever expect your work to reach an audience outside of
Ofeq: “No, I am surprised that you even have it. We never expected audiences outside of Israel
to watch it. I don’t know if it’s watchable from an outsider’s perspective… we can’t expect
anyone outside of Israel to understand it.”
Thank you!
Group № 1
Adena, Frederick, Daria

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