The Story of Oryyta – How it began
I’m Liora Levi and welcome to my gallery — Orryta. Before we tour the exhibition, I would like to give you a brief overview about Orryta and how the gallery came to be.
I’m an artist, and have been living in Hoshaya for 26 years. My husband, Aryeh, works in hi-tech, and we have five children and eight grandchildren.
For many years, I worked in the Israeli education system. I was head of the art department in the religious high school for girls in Tverya for many years. I also founded and coordinated a Beit Midrash program at the Shaanan Academic Religious Teachers' College in Haifa. The program, which remains popular today, combines lectures on Judaism and Hassidism with art workshops.
My last position was in the Ministry of Education where I was the National Supervisor of Art in the Religious Education Administration. I left that position six years ago because I felt the time had come for me to make a change. I mustered up my courage and left my secure job to follow my dream of establishing a center for Jewish culture in the Galilee. My vision was to create a gallery to exhibit contemporary Jewish art—where Art and Judaism are intertwined.
This gallery is a natural outgrowth of my years devoted to teaching art using Jewish sources. When I taught art to high school and college students, I felt a need to create something special—something that would help people who were searching for Jewish identity and spirituality.
I must admit—it was not a smooth journey. I spent three years searching for the perfect venue. I had a clear picture in my head: the gallery was to be surrounded by greenery and have an inspiring view. But each time I thought I had found a suitable location, something happened. About four years ago, after we completed an addition to our home, I realized that the perfect place for my gallery was right here! Here, I am surrounded by greenery and quiet, and outside my window I have a breathtaking view of Tzippori. So I turned my private home into the art gallery I had dreamed of.
The gallery — named Orryta— is a combination of three Hebrew words: Or –meaning “light” — Torah, and Art — connecting Art and Judaism. Here, works of some of Israel's most important contemporary artists have been exhibited. Orryta has enabled me to combine all my passions: art, the exploration of Jewish texts and meeting new people. In addition to the exhibitions that change every three months, we host creative discussion groups and serve light meals with typical Galilean foods. We also hold creative workshops for groups of all ages – for women only, groups with women and men from companies and organizations throughout Israel, as well as for families celebrating milestones, such as birthdays, Bat Mitzvahs and anniversaries.
The workshops are on a wide range of topics and we use texts from the ancient scripture as well as from modern Israeli literature. These texts serve as inspiration for creativity. Everyone, even someone who has never touched an art supply, comes out of the workshop feeling that they have learned something positive about themselves. And, most important, everyone leaves here with their own individual creation they painted on canvas.
The workshops are not only held in this gallery, but are also held at other venues around the country.
What do I like best about Orryta? Without a doubt it's meeting and interacting with people. There's something wonderful when a new group arrives to the gallery for a workshop – people whom I've never met before. There is a certain closeness which develops among us, mainly through each person’s individual artistic journey.
And looking ahead, my dream is to reach even more people, to develop more programs, and to turn Orryta into a center for artists and intellectuals who produce Jewish creative works through multidisciplinary art.
The fields of Art and Judaism and the connection between them are what drive me to create a home for Jewish culture in the Galilee. I believe that this home will bring about social and cultural change, and will lead to a breakthrough in the social and artistic discourse that is lacking in today's society.
I am often asked how I combine being a wife and mother with my career. My energies are divided between my home and the gallery — and everything else. I am learning to juggle my time between the gallery and running the business, and to spending time with my sons who come home from the army for brief visits. It’s important to me that I am available to my children and grandchildren.
I wish to end our time together with a prayer, which I wrote during my long journey in establishing Orryta:
"Architect of the World
Design within our hearts
The shape of our homes
Draw us a spacious home,
Open with opportunities
And with a transparent ceiling
Between Heaven and Earth"
For further details and to plan your group visit to ORRYTA, please contact me at:
Liora Levi, Hoshaya, 052-2618070, firstname.lastname@example.org.