Eitam Tubul’s light-hearted art project proposes amulets for modern misfortunes such as hangovers, awkward silences or email hacking.
Jerusalem art project “Amulet Authority” places amulets to ward against daily problems such as “ordering during happy hour,” as seen pictured in Jerusalem, Oct. 29, 2018.
Jerusalem has known many masters and many faiths in its 3,000-year history, but one thing has remained a cultural constant: amulets against evil spirits. The modern city abounds with beads, pendants, pictures, strings, jewelry and a wide assortment of talismans — a custom that is shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike.
One Israeli artist is tapping into this millennia-old tradition and adapting it for Jerusalem’s 21st-century streets. In homage to this deep-rooted tradition, Jerusalemite artist Eitam Tubul launched the light-hearted “Amulet Authority,” an art project that has produced a variety of intricate plaques designed to thwart modern misfortunes.
Tubul said that instead of competing with traditional amulets, he struck on the notion of mystical remedies for the “very prosaic” problems of modern life. His plaques offer protection against everyday misfortunes such as hangovers, awkward silences and meter maids, or act as good luck charms for finding free Wi-Fi, long cell phone battery life or balanced air-conditioning in the office.
“[These are] things that people know can’t really be solved,” he told Al-Monitor.
Under the guise of officialdom, Tubul has created absurdity. The art project’s website informs visitors that “the amulets passed all the necessary and required references” — of which, of course, there are none. Tubul’s fictitious Amulet Authority bears a logo combining an eye and a fish, two common apotropaic symbols.
“Every month or so, somebody tags the Amulet Authority [on Facebook] in a picture,” Tubul said, chuckling. “Lots of people say ‘these Jerusalemites are totally crazy. They have an Amulet Authority. What’s happening in this city of morons?’”
The amulets are scattered along central Jerusalem’s Hillel Street and around the Mahane Yehuda market, placed at eye level on sandy limestone walls.
“To use the amulet, photograph it and save it as a picture on the telephone in your pocket,” the plaques instruct passersby.
Amulets to ward off evil and ensure good fortune are common to the many peoples who have inhabited the Levant in the past few thousands of years to the present day. Just this week, Apple added the ubiquitous blue eye amulet, common throughout the Middle East and further afield, to its latest batch of iOS emojis.
Over the ages, they have taken on a dizzying variety of forms, from scarab seals with hieroglyphs to inscribed slips of metal or parchment, to colored stones or beads. The oldest known copies of biblical text are etched into two silver amulets dating to the sixth-century BC that were found in a cave outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
“They are a phenomenon in popular culture, and it doesn’t really matter who’s here — whether it’s Christian or Jew or Samaritan or Muslim,” Lenny Wolfe, an antiquities dealer and collector of Middle Eastern amulets both ancient and modern, told Al-Monitor.
Among the local Arab population, apotropaic amulets occupy the realm of folk medicine and magic, filling the void between organized religion and science, and are “an essential part of the Palestinian people’s cultural heritage,” wrote Baha al-Jubeh, a curator at the Palestinian Museum in the West Bank city of Birzeit, in a 2005 article. The museum has an assemblage of 1,400 amulets, talismans and other magical objects from Palestinian communities and around the Arab world collected by Tawfiq Canaan, an early 20th-century collector.
“Arguably, amulets are the ultimate expression of popular culture,” Wolfe said, adding, “It’s an undercurrent in the culture that lasts hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”
The “Amulet Authority” art project was conceived in 2014 during Tubul’s artist residency with Beita, a municipal art center in Jerusalem. He was tasked with creating works that span the divide between the home and public space. He decided on amulets because of their intimate nature and his familiarity with them from growing up in a Moroccan Jewish home.
Tubul, who also teaches graphic design at the Musrara School of Art in Jerusalem, said his amulets adhere to a certain “intuition.” Their eccentric figures combine abstract shapes and lines with Hebrew letters and the occasional word and are inspired by traditional Kabbalistic Jewish designs.
“Every time I start to see that the design is starting to look like something that I understand, I throw it out,” he said. “I make it so that the imagery is meaningless. People really connect to it.”
Of the original 14 amulets placed around the city, several have been damaged or pilfered, Tubul said, including one, ironically, to protect against email hacking.
“I guess someone really needed it,” he said.
Undeterred, Tubul is in the process of designing another seven based on “bizarre” suggestions submitted by Facebook users. One suggestion is an amulet to “to find all the amulets you put up,” but until Tubul erects the new series, visitors will have to explore the streets and alleys around downtown Jerusalem to find them.
The University of Cape Town campus. Photo: Adrian Frith via Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Cape Town, the top-ranking academic institution in Africa, is set to consider enforcing an academic boycott against Israel later this month.
The UCT Senate, a decision-making body comprised primarily of professors and administrators, endorsed a proposal on March 15 to bar the university from entering into any formal relationship with Israeli academic institutions that operate “in the occupied Palestinian territories,” or otherwise enable “gross human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the university said in a statement.
The campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
JNS.org – Students at Brown University voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum held between Tuesday and Thursday, calling on the school to separate itself from companies that conduct business with the State of Israel.
The tally was 69 percent in favor and 31 percent against.
Members of the pro-Israel community nationally and locally condemned the outcome.
“For the sake of My servant Yaakov, Yisrael My chosen one, I call you by name, I hail you by title, though you have not known Me.” Isaiah 45:4 (The Israel Bible™)
Many have seen similarities between the Biblical King Cyrus and President Donald Trump. (Breaking Israel News)
After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!
Many are claiming this was a pre-election gift to Trump’s friend, Netanyahu, but it others see a much larger significance that transcends politics and enters into the realm of the Biblical. One such belief was expressed by Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who noted that the announcement came on the Jewish holiday of Purim.
“The same days on which the Yehudim enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Esther 9:22 (The Israel Bible™)
If there was ever a quintessentially Jewish holiday, it’s Purim, when the Jewish people were threatened by Haman, a descendant of Amalek, and saved by God’s hidden hand. Even so, we find examples of people from the Nations being inspired by the story of Purim and even gathering to mark the day alongside the Jewish people.
Protesters waving Turkish and Palestinian flags shout anti-Israel slogans during a demonstration in Amsterdam June 4, 2010. Israel’s raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla has set off a diplomatic furor, drawing criticism from friends and foes alike and straining ties with regional ally Turkey, which cal. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags turned their backs on a Dutch chief rabbi during his eulogy at a vigil for Muslims killed in New Zealand.
The incident Sunday happened as Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs was discussing the meaning of a minute of silence at the gathering at the Dam Square World War II memorial monument. Thousands of people, many of them Muslims, gathered at the square to commemorate the 49 people slain Friday by a far-right killer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Hamas is now accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah of exploiting the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip to call on Palestinians to overthrow the Hamas regime. Fatah, for its part, is accusing the “dark forces” of Hamas of acting on orders from outside parties to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
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When the FBI informs us that parents are ready to spend up to $6.5 million in bribes to get their children into prestige colleges, it seemingly implies that all is very, very well in the American university. But Warren Treadgold tells us that’s an illusion.
He’s a distinguished professor of Byzantine history at St. Louis University who has also taught at Berkeley, FIU, Hillsdale, Stanford, and UCLA. Having entered college in 1967, he draws on long experience to both indict and offer a remedy of the most thoroughly left-wing major institution in America. His book, The University We Need (Encounter, 2018) presents its case with insight and a light touch.
The threat posed by Hezbollah and Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior operative in Hezbollah, was unmasked by Israel on Wednesday.
Daqduq was responsible for the “abduction and execution of five American servicemen in Iraq in 2007,” the IDF said. The role of Hezbollah members in neighboring states is an illustration of how groups allied with Iran are continuing to build a web linking Tehran to Beirut via a “road to the sea” that transits Iraq and Syria.
According to the IDF, the role of Daqduq includes establishing terror cells in Iraq to fight the US in 2006, stints training in Lebanon in 2013-2018 and now putting down roots in Syria.
Every few weeks, some political or national figure demands a national conversation about race. (Most recently, Senator Kamala Harris insisted, “We have not had these honest discussions about race.”)
What does a conversation about race mean? Invariably, an indictment of the fundamental unfairness of our country, the historical roots of racism in white supremacy, and the national guilt of white people.
Or, to put it more simply, why Senator Kamala Harris deserves to be in the White House.
We don’t have national conversations about anti-Semitism because the problem can’t be narrowed down to an easily blamed demographic. The Democrats invariably try to blame anti-Semitism on the usual suspects, white male Republicans living more than two hundred miles from a Starbucks, but the largest toll of violent anti-Semitic attacks tend to fall on New York City’s black neighborhoods.