Boosting Morale with Art

The painting to the right, has been unfinished and not touched by Leah since October 7.

A few days before October 7, artist Leah Luria was working in her Ramat Bet Shemesh studio on a painting of Safed, showing the area’s rolling mountains underneath a violet-yellow sky.

It was a “serene . . . whimsical” artwork, in shades of purple and lavender. It was the latest in a series of Israeli landscapes she had done since settling in Israel.

Then Hamas struck, killing more than 1,000 people and taking more than 200 hostages back into Gaza. Luria, who had made aliyah with her husband Zvi and the couple’s six children in 2021, heard about the unprecedented atrocities as the stories unfolded in the days following October 7.

Since then, her heart—and her artwork on a computerized canvas—has been in Gaza and the nearby parts of southern Israel, not in Safed.

In the months since, Luria has turned her attention to fundraising on behalf of Israelis most affected by the Hamas killings, and on behalf of fellow artists whose income has shrunk because of the decrease in tourism. “I felt a strong urge to direct my creative energies to a useful cause,” Luria says.

She approached her artist friends to take part in an artistic fundraising initiative to raise money for a charity that supports Israeli widows and orphans—“where my heart was at.” Luria incorporated images donated by her friends, as well as a soldier’s prayer, onto accessories like keychains and pendants which she placed on her website ( One hundred percent of the profits from the sales went to the charity, thanks to a generous donor who covered the manufacturing costs. “Working together with other artists in Israel has created a sense of achdus among us,” she says.

“…I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a brush. I had to process my pain outside the art studio before I could approach the canvas again.”

Luria also began sharing her artist friends’ creations with her now much larger online audience, as many of her friends’ incomes had dropped since the war began. “Now I wasn’t just promoting my own art, but I was also helping other artists in Israel reach an international market.” Her website now showcases “elevated fine art and meaningful gifts by artists in Israel with love.”

Since October 7, Leah Luria, an artist based in Israel, has turned her attention to fundraising on behalf of Israeli artists who have been suffering financially due to the war.

A native of Moscow, Luria moved with her family to the United States at the age of three and lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts (where she studied at the Boston University College of Fine Arts) and Florida before settling in Israel, where she had never been before. In Israel she worked as an art teacher and artist, selling her artwork on her own website.

The war in Gaza changed the focus of Luria’s artwork.

“October 7 initially drained me of creativity,” she says. “With the schools closing, rockets overhead, and the sense of mourning, I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a brush. I had to process my pain outside the art studio before I could approach the canvas again.”

Today, she says, she’s more interested in realism, boosting Israeli morale in the wake of Hamas terrorism. She created a small metal calligraphy wall-hanging that features the Hebrew words “Al tira” (“Do not fear”). She feels this phrase is “the most common commandment in the Tanach,” and reflects her own spiritual belief in Divine protection during the ongoing war.

Her favorite new work? A painting of a young woman, shown from the back, “deep in prayer” at the Western Wall, wearing a modest, multi-color (predominantly blue) dress, an M16 machine gun slung across her back.

Luria had found the picture of the young woman, whom she did not know, on social media. She was transfixed by it, she says. “I found myself moved as an artist, a woman, a Jew.” That young woman, it turned out, was from the US and had volunteered to serve in the Israeli army.

That painting, which took seventeen hours of digital painting and 15,871 keystrokes, shows Luria’s melding of religious faith and human action. “I sensed in this image a poignant fusion of femininity, faith and our strength as a people.”


A painting of a young woman,  “deep in prayer” at the Western Wall, wearing a modest  dress, an M16 machine gun slung across her back.


And the painting of the Safed scenery on which she was working in the days before October 7?

She hasn’t worked on it since that dark date—and might not again, she says. Promoting her fund-raising effort and the art of other Israeli artists has taken up her time.

What themes will Luria concentrate on when she returns full-time to her electronic easel?

“No plans,” she says — “maybe soldiers.”


Steve Lipman is a regular contributor to Jewish Action.

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