The large Hebrew text comes from Pirkei Avot 2:21 and translates to “It is not your duty to complete the work. But neither are you free to desist from it.” The “work” is often understood to be the work of repairing the brokenness in the world, and in this piece of art I’ve represented the world with a stand of trees. In honor of the family’s last name, these are pear trees (in the leaves and fruit, if not the whimsical and optimistic branches and trunks).
The text at the very bottom is Eliana’s name along with the Hebrew date of her Bat Mitzvah, 29th of Cheshvan, 5778.
The two birds are a nod to both the Bat Mitzvah’s parasha, Toldot, and the haftarah, from I Samuel chapter 20 (the reading for Shabbat Machar Chodesh). In the parasha, the twins Jacob and Esau are born. Their encounters and struggles with each other are among the most meaningful of biblical stories. In the haftarah we read the story of David and Jonathan, two people with a meaningful loving connection who must struggle as outside forces assault their relationship. In this piece of art, the two birds sit facing each other, acknowledging each other’s presence, and co-existing with a calm out of reach of the characters in the stories.