Here is an interesting post from the good folks at Tablet Magazine examining the trend of non-Jewish celebrities with Hebrew tattoos. While working on my documentary Tattoo Jew I've become interested in the dynamic of Hebrew ink on non-Jewish people, and this article captures that dynamic pretty well. Celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, David Beckham and Victoria Beckham, Jordin Sparks and Justin Bieber are mentioned. One of the Jewish celebrities mentioned is Adam Pally. He is pictured above with Eliza Coupe from the unfortunately cancelled show Happy Endings. But you can check him out every week on the hilarious show The Mindy Project with Mindy Kaling (she's amazing!). Check out the article and let me know what you think. Here it is:
The Auschwitz Museum in Poland has recently added metal stamps used to tattoo Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust to its collection. In autumn 1941 the Nazis began to forcibly tattoo numbers onto the bodies of Soviet prisoners of war. The number was tattooed on the left side of a prisoner’s chest using a metal stamp to which removable plates with needles were inserted, consisting of specific digits. A single blow with an inked stamp to the chest was able to permanently impress the entire number. From spring 1942 onward, authorities at the camp ordered tattooing of numbers for all prisoners on the left forearm. Needles fixed on a wooden shaft and soaked in ink began to be used for puncturing the skin to form digits. Almost all previously registered and newly arrived prisoners, including females, were tattooed.
A 24-year-old Egyptian has been arrested by authorities for allegedly committing the crime of “loving Israel.” National media outlets in Egypt have given the “suspect” the moniker “Israel lover,” after he was spotted with a tattoo of the Star of David on his arm. According to authorities, the man “made contact with Israelis through his Facebook page, and he clicked ‘like’ on the Mossad’s Facebook page.” Read about it here and here.
50 Religiously Inspired Tattoos Show Faith That's Not Just Skin-Deep
The Huffington Post has an article with a slide show that is an interesting look at spiritual and religious expressions in tattoos titled, . The slide show includes the following Jewish related image:
Here is the text for the above image: "An Israeli army reservist, who sports a tattoo of a lion surrounded by Star of David, works on his tank as another performs his morning prayers at a forward base where the Israeli army have deployed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles, near Israel's border with Lebanon. (2006)"
While working on Tattoo Jew I have become interested in the world of Jewish ink in Israel. In comparison with diaspora Jews (particularly in the United States) Israelis have been slower to embrace tattoos as a way to express their Jewish identity. There are recent examples of children and grandchildren of Auschwitz survivors in Israel getting inked with identical numbers to those on their relatives. This act of commemoration was detailed in a New York Times article last year titled Proudly Bearing Elders’ Scars, Their Skin Says ‘Never Forget’. But most of the inked Israelis and tattoo artists have been, in my experience, disconnected with the relationship between Jewish identity and tattoos. So, imagine my excitement upon reading about an exhibit by Yasmine Berger titled “Tattoos: Tattoo Representations in Contemporary Art,” at Beersheba's HaBeer Gallery sponsored by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. According to Ms. Bergner, “I wanted to see if I could find a place in Judaism that could accept tattooing, seeing how everyone can engage in it as a private ritual.”
The Times of Israel has a fascinating article about Ms. Berger's exhibit which you can read here: Body Art Bares Itself in Beersheba. If you want to view a Google translated version of her site in English you can view it here. Or, if you read Hebrew just click here.
Free Swastika Tattoo Campaign Provokes Outrage in UK
In a New York Times wedding announcement for Miriam Ganz and Rabbi Daniel Horowitz there was a sweet reference to her tattoo and the role it played in their first meeting: "He next noticed the tattoo on the top of her right foot. “Beshert, and in Rashi, that’s sexy,” she recalled him saying, as he deciphered the medieval Rashi typeface for the Yiddish word “beshert,” which means “destined” or, in the romantic sense, “soul mate.” “It kind of took my breath away,” she said. Rabbi Horwitz didn’t have an issue with her tattoo, which is traditionally taboo in less liberal Jewish circles." I couldn't find any pics of the tattoo. So, if anyone (including the newlyweds) would like to share a photo of that ink with me, I'm eager to see it.
Holocaust Tattoos Causing a Stir in Jewish Communities
"24-year-old Israeli man Daniel Philosoph is one of a growing number of grandchildren of Auschwitz survivors around the world that are using their bodies to memorialize some of the darkest days in history for Jews." Read the article Holocaust Tattoos Causing a Stir in Jewish Communities and check out the video:
Artist Will Deutsch creates a wonderful intersection between his love of comic books, his love of Judaism and his quirky artistic talent. I dig his work and there are a lot of pieces that would be of interest to Jewish people of all levels of religious observance. Specifically interesting in the context of Tattoo Jew is this:
According to the Jewish Journal article Will Deutsch: Drawing on Jewish Culture,"Deutsch’s imagery draws from a rich tradition of immigrant Jewish woodcut artists, also a major influence on Will Eisner’s “A Contract with God,” widely recognized as the first graphic novel. Most of the founding comic book artists and writers were Jewish, and Deutsch can cite the pantheon like a music critic listing the great composers: Maxwell Gaines, a pioneer of the comic book form; Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of Superman; Bob Kane, creator of Batman; Al Jaffee of Mad Magazine; and Stan Lee, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. Deutsch’s drawings reflect the lack of agreement of what it means to be Jewish. The Jews in his drawings are wrapping tefillin, but they’re also doing the electric slide at a bar mitzvah and getting Hebrew tattoos on their arms. “My work is meant to function as a lens, not a pulpit,” Deutsch said. “It’s how I see things, not how they are or how they should be.”" Check out his site here: Notes from the Tribe.
This is an interesting list of advice for Jews interested in getting inked from the perspective of an Israeli. While I don't endorse the advice either way it's worth a read. Just keep one thing in mind: The author, Jason Fredric Gilbert, is completely wrong by reinforcing the myth that Jewish people with tattoos can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. But he makes some other good points. You can read the whole article here.
From the good folks at Juxtapoz via Geekologie: Chris Eckert has desigend and created this robotic tattoo machine. The great part is that the tattoo machine does the tattoo for you, and the even better/crazy thing is that it picks your tattoo for you. Not just any tattoo, you are “assigned a religion and it’s corresponding symbol is tattooed onto the your arm.”
In full, Eckert’s robotoic tattoo machine is described as a “three axis numerically controlled sculpture. Once the main switch is triggered, the operator is assigned a religion and it’s corresponding symbol is tattooed onto the person’s arm. The operator does not have control over the assigned symbol.” You know how some people get drunk and wake up in the morning with a “I Love Mom” tattoo on their arm? This makes random moments even better. The Robotic Tattoo Machine that Randomly Tattoos Your Favorite Religious Symbol
Here is an interesting article titled “Living with Leviticus: On Tattoos” from the Twin Cities Daily Planet Twin Cities Daily Planet examining some often overlooked challenges to halacha (religious law) concerning the permissibility of Jews getting inked. Click on the picture to read:
I was just watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory from 2009 (The Gothowitz Deviation) where Howard says he can be buried in a Jewish cemetery because he's not wearing a real tattoo. Obviously, one might imagine that Chuck Lorre and any other Jewish writers might know that the tattoo-related burial prohibition is a myth. But it's still a commonly accepted misconception. Plus, far be it from me to ever criticize Chuck Lorre. He's written and created some great work in television. In fact, if I were in a more clever mood I'd have written this like a Chuck Lorre vanity card.