Twenty years ago, artist Naomi Persky had a dream to live in the Holy Land. That wish came to fruition in 2003 when she, along with her husband and 5 of their six children, moved to Israel. Five years ago, their eldest son joined the family with his own wife and children.
Naomi has degrees in fine arts, graphic design, and teaching in education, art and ceramics. She has worked in numerous media.
“I am a very hands-on person,” she explained to Israel365. “I like to explore and integrate all of the aspects of my life into a fusion of creative expression.”
Her studio, located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the city of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is called Amphora. Amphorae were ancient clay urns used for storing olive oil and grape juice. Today, Naomi is focusing her creative energies on creating high-quality ceramics with Biblically-based symbols.
“I wanted to reflect back to the days of antiquity,” Naomi said to Israel365. “There are wine and olive presses in the hills within walking distance of my home. My ceramic work depicts the symbolic meaning of the heritage of the Land of Israel.”
In the Bible, the Holy Land is described in Deuteronomy 8:8 as a place of seven types of special produce. It says, “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey.”
Sharing that the Bible paints the shade of the grape vine and fig tree as a metaphor for the idyllic world peace we all await, Naomi uses the imagery of the seven species not only in her ceramic artwork, but also as part of her day to day living.
“I make a point to eat from the seven species mentioned in the Bible,” she reflected to Israel365. “I take joy in watching wheat crops grow, charting the progress of the date trees as they seasonally yield their fruits. I sprout wheat berries and make them into bread. In the morning, I juice the seeds of the pomegranate with wild greens that I gather in the hills. Come autumn, I cure my own olives.”
Naomi shared with Israel365 that she feels “privileged to live the storybook of Biblical existence, interacting with the seven species.” Her backyard is filled with fruit trees that provide her with the opportunity to say the special Jewish blessing on the first flowers on fruit trees in the spring.
Strongly connected to Biblical imagery, Naomi includes in her ceramic creations shapes and designs of fish, the Star of David, doves of peace, the seven species and the hamsa hand, an ancient symbol associated with protection from evil and misfortune.
The Jewish hamsa corresponds to the good eye and generosity. Extending one’s hand toward another is a gesture of peace, blessing, and fellowship. It symbolizes communal prayer for one another and prayers of initiation and restoration, including physical healing.
Naomi continued to explain to Israel365 the Biblical sources for the other significant symbolism in her creations.
“Jacob blessed his sons, Ephraim and Menashe, by saying, ‘and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ In Hebrew there is a paraphrase, ‘Grow into a multitude’ which relates to the production of fish. Fish is a symbol for protection and good luck. The Hebrew word for fish, dagim, has letters in it that symbolize the blessing located specifically where the eyes cannot see.
“The Jewish star is composed of two conceptual ‘triads’, which together form the basis of Jewish belief: creation, revelation, and redemption; God, Israel, and world. The top triangle strives upward, towards God, while the lower triangle strives downward, towards the real world. The intertwining of the triangles makes them inseparable, like the Jewish people, one to the other.”
Naomi has incorporated her love for the Holy Land and the Bible into meaningful, beautiful and unique creations. Her high-quality ceramic pieces, through their symbolic imagery, are made with hopes that those who see them will develop a deeper appreciation for what they represent and the specialness of the Land of Israel and the Bible.