7:00 AM

Mordechai Ardon, Tammuz, 1962

Dear Yossi,

I saw this painting and I was immediately brought back to one of my favorite memories, looking at the stars at night in the Negev Desert. I shouldn’t be surprised that the painting reminds me of Israel, considering that Mordechai Ardon is Israeli. I originally searched through Reuven Rubin’s works, since you taught me about him, but something about Ardon’s paintings drew me in. However, after reading about Ardon, I was convinced this is the painting for you.

At first glance I thought of the stars. Stars can be viewed in many different ways. People say, “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” and various other quotes. Personally, I would gladly land among the stars. I’ve been infatuated with the big dipper since my days at sleep away camp in the North woods of Wisconsin. When I get the opportunity to see a clear sky full of stars, my eyes search for that constellation, and when they find it I feel at home. While the mass amount of stars that appear in this painting and in the sky can be overwhelming, I encourage you to find your constellation.

When I first saw this painting, I thought it looked similar to Picasso, especially during his blue period. At that time, Picasso painted his feelings on the canvas, depression evident in his hues. This painting, all different shades of blue, has a rather opposite effect on me. I may be biased because blue is my favorite color, but I see life in this painting. Could it be that my understanding of the color choices of the Israeli artist and connection to Israel, a state developed around the colors blue and white, has changed my perception of this color? While everyone has their own interpretations of art, I hope you choose to see the life in this painting.

Ardon based many of his paintings on teachings from the Kabbalah. After two visits to to Avraham in Tzfat I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in Kabbalah art, but I am intrigued by it. While, my knowledge of Jewish mysticism is limited, you taught me enough to feel the magic in this painting.

Beyond the teachings of the Kabbalah, I just want to thank you for this past summer. I learned more about Israel and Judaism than I could have ever imagined, and I also made a life-long friend. Your passion and devotion to the State of Israel and to your teaching inspires me. I hope that one day I can have a job that brings me the joy you display when you teach.

You are a one of a kind, Yossi. I see it, just as Michael Levin saw it. Please don’t ever feel lonely, because you have thousands of friends in every student you’ve taught. You are the moon and we are the stars.

You are a true hero of Israel, just like Yoni Netanyahu and Eli Cohen. I hope you see this painting as a symbol of Israeli pride and hope, as well as representation of all of the lives you have touched.

Forever Your Student and Friend,


Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone they cared for. These are their moving responses. 

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