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         INTRODUCTION           GALLERY 1          GALLERY 2          FILM & MUSIC          COWBOY FROM MINSK          

         INTRODUCTION           GALLERY 1          GALLERY 2          FILM & MUSIC          COWBOY FROM MINSK          

I don’t know what prompted me to start drawing again after a hiatus of approximately 45 years, other than to fill some void. In the meantime, Amazon sent pads and pens and that old Peak Experience returned, along with the zitsfleish to sustain me until late into the night.

This time around, the Hebrew aleph beit made frequent cameos; the Magen David had starring roles; the cast of Yiddishe characters won best supporting roles, and  Kabbalistic concepts were entitled at the name-giving ceremony of each new creation.

Thunder and Lightning: November 2, 2021, one day after our fiftieth wedding anniversary, fifty plus years of being observant Jews: Open Heart, Triple By-Pass Surgery in Maimonides Hospital. After a 10-day stay, transferred to a nursing home where there was a Covid lockdown of some two weeks before I could begin physical therapy.

Heretofore, tickets were resold to other barter companies and individual barter players, the proceeds from which were used to trade for film editors and videographers. It was in this manner that we financed MOM: The Confessions of a Male Orthodox Model, a Musical Morality Tale. Turn MOM upside down and WOW: No barter, no “tickey” and no MOM! Production on hold…

Lifschutz as "Poster Boy" for marketing campaign

(Gallery 2 #49) Record cover used in MOM

Baruch HaShem, I’ve learned to walk, learn and daven again. And the mirror says that my beard has begun to regrow--maybe that’s wishful thinking. Anyways, enjoy. ❖

Scene from MOM: Confessions of a Male Orthodox Model

Jump cut to a Boro Park basement with a mikvah and me there in my birthday suit. So I took the plunge and this too increased my daily output.

Over time, we had more, frequent editorial meetings which led to discussions about Judaism in general and Mysticism in particular. According to Rabbi Berg, HaSulam's basic approach was to bring Jews closer to their true heritage via the mystical interpretation of the Torah.

Mysticism resonated, although my only reference was growing up in the 50's with the tv series The Twilight Zone.  Thus, I concluded: "Mysticism is American as apple pie," which became a charter member of my verbal repertoire. Eventually, I asked him to buy me a pair of tefillin.  

Meanwhile, I persevered, and sometime after handing in the work, he informed that he had lost the manuscript

--and I was back in business! 

During our get-togethers, he repeatedly suggested that I spend Shabbat with him and his wife. Finally, after many months, I agreed. Shabbat was a trip, literally: It was LSD.  Paranoid me thought maybe the Rabbi had drugged me. I went back the next week and it was the same. Well, if I can reach this state of mind naturally, I'm in!

For film fans, Rabbi Berg appears in my first-born Isaac's upsharen scene (hair-cutting ceremony of a 3-yearold male) in our prizwe-winning  mockumentary HAG: The Story of the Hassidic Actors Guild: Speaking of which, an entire scene is devoted to the above poster (see film section).

Regrettably, a number of drawings were lost in Hurricane Sandy, October, 2012, when our Rockaway Beach home was inundated with Atlantic Ocean, Jamaica Bay, overflowing sewers from below and torrential rains from above.

Scene from MOM

Nobody told me that I would have to learn to walk again. Anxiety terrorized moment by moment. I could not daven, except for the Shema and the Shmoneh Esrai. I eliminated the nightly Maariv  service--I poskened (adjudicated albeit improperly) from the Talmud that it was optional.

And I could no longer write my weekly blog, RemenbrandtsA Recollection of SelpH Portraits & Comments on the Weekly Torah Parsha in Light of Current Events. The latter part of this lengthy rubric is based a teaching of the Hassidic Master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who advised reading the news daily in order to see the hand of  G-d on display.

Returning home, I could not rekindle the Peak Experience, but could only eke out two more drawings (Gallery 2 #'s 45 & 46) before calling it quits. What’s more--make that “less--my beard was half its original length--a by-product of surgery.

Thoracic Park Theme Song  (Gallery 2 #46) Click to enlarge

Thoracic Park (Gallery 2 #45) Click to enlarge

During the late 1960's, I was introduced to the Rapidagraph. Committing pen to paper lead to the Peak Experience. This mild manic continued sporadically till the early 70's, when I married and started a family.

The first drawing/poster below (Gallery 2 #47) received a grant from the Jewish Student Network. At the time, I was involved  representing nationwide Jewish Student newspapers to potential advertisers, similar to my position then as managing editor for the New York edition of the Jewish Post & Opinion, a chain of six weekly publications. 

Click on poster to see its detail

In my first Jewish journalistic stint I served as Editor of the monthly Jewish Look, published by the late Gershon Jacobson of the Yiddish Algemeiner Journal. I met Jacobson on the first day of Israel's Yom Kippur War, outside 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, headquarters and synagogue of the Lubavitch Hassidic  Movement.  During a break in the holy day services, I sat on a bench outside the Chabad centerpiece. Jacobson sat down on the same bench, and, in effect, began to interview me: 

That I became observant  in the summer of  ‘71, the result of editing an  English manuscript of Talmud Eser Sefirot, published as The Ten  Luminous Emanations, the voluminous Kabbalistic writings of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Halevi Ashalg, also known as The Baal HaSulam (Author of the Ladder), his magnum opus based on the Zohar, the classic text of Jewish Mysticism. 

The Ladder (Gallery 1 #2) CLick to enlarge

I had met the Publisher of the Research Center of Kabbalah, Rabbi Feival Berg, in the law office of my late father, Michael Wolf Lifschutz, Alav HaShalom. I had stopped by to discuss some possible business connections, seeing that I was out of work.  Having studied at the Hebrew University for two semesters in 1962-63, my father whisked me into his office and introduced me to the Rabbi. When he asked about my métier, I told him  that I had worked on the Daily News as an editorial trainee, reporting and rewriting and ultimately confirmed as a captions writer--sometimes having to write the frontpage, the centerfold and the back sports page, all in the most pressurized time allotment imaginable, otherwise known as the "deadline." 

Meanwhile, back in my father's office, Rabbi Berg just happened to have a 400-page manuscript with him and would I be interested in editing? The rhetorical question was embellished by the price of $1.50 per page. Mind you we're talking late 60's which meant that with my rent at $140 per month and a can of tuna or soup costing about a quarter, I could put off having to work in an office for another 4 months, or so.

I left with the manuscript, headed for the subway and on the train back to my apartment in Park Slope, I begin to peruse the first page of my new job. Well, I didn't understand a word, every concept so painfully unfathomable.  Nevertheless, page one was so transformative I missed my stop. When I switched trains, I continued reading, only to miss my stop again.

(In the late 60's, the Kingston Trio had popularized the folk song "M.T.A, " about a guy named Charlie who couldn’t exit the subway in Boston.)

Back in my apartment, page one took five hours. Similar results were produced on subsequent days. In other words, I was: Hello Charlie, still stuck in the subway? And at 30 cents an hour I’m on way for a second can of Charlie Tuna.  That's when I called Rabbi Berg and admitted that, I didn't want to embarrass my father, but the work at hand was way beyond me.

His response: Why don't you wear a yarmulke when you edit? I thought that was pretty funny: How’s that going to help? (It was even funnier if you knew what I was eating for breakfast.) Try it, he suggested.

Well, I tried it and there seemed to be a bit of a breakthrough. I was now doing maybe  three pages a day. Nevertheless, I called the Rabbi again to confess incompetence--I was just the wrong person for the job. His response: Let me take you to the mikvah. Me: How's that going to help?

At the same time, the curtain came down on my niche enterprise of selling airtime on JLTV, a national Jewish television network, to marketeers of on-and-off-Broadway shows. In exchange for airtime, I received theatre tickets. JLTV had acquired HAG and

The Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame for thousands of 30 and/or 60 second spots. However, theater shows became a no-show, another victim of Covid. 

Fast Forward, Purim-Pandemic-Pandemonium. March, 2020. I called my rabbi to apologize that my wife and I would not be attending his Purim celebration, owing to our low immunity systems. From that day, I stopped attending synagogue services, confined to a life of seclusion.