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Street artist Meiri gives joy to Pretoria walls

Driving along Church Street in the Pretoria CBD, one may for a moment think that you are in Tel Aviv. Two buildings were this past week transformed by Israel’s finest street artist, Rami Meiri, and his bold signature in Hebrew stands out.

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Lifestyle/Community

DIANE WOLFSON

PRETORIA

From the early ‘90s to the present day, lively murals have been popping up around the world, to a large degree thanks to Meiri; give him a blank concrete wall and mischievous murals become colourful depictions which interact with their environment.

“I’m an urban artist. My language is visual,” Meiri self-describes his talent for creating evocative, larger-than-life murals. 

His bright, acrylic works mirror Israel’s lighter side, portraying pub culture, nightlife and images of beachgoers lazing in the sand, which are splashed across the country’s building facades and cultural centres.

“I have been giving gifts to cities through murals for 35 years. I like to bring funny figures to balance life under pressure,” remarked Meiri. He does this with peeping toms, funny faces and realistic characters to bring smiles and laughter to passers-by.

Meiri was brought to South Africa as a joint collaboration project between the Embassy of Israel and City Property Administration, a residential and commercial property management company, owned by the Wapnick family. 

According to City Property’s MD, Jeffery Wapnick, the company is extremely proud of its achievements in helping to uplift the Pretoria CBD. Its partnership with the Israeli Embassy in bringing Meiri to South Africa was based on City Property’s mission to revive and regenerate the Pretoria CBD. It was also the result of collaborative efforts between South Africa and Israel, working with the community and local business. 

The first completed mural (pictured) depicts two men working off open platforms on a high-rise building while the second (front page photo) is on the wall of an orphanage in the CBD, which Meiri is doing as a workshop with second- year students from the University of Technology and joined by staff of City Property. 

“What happens here is wonderful, working with local people and giving this gift to the City of Pretoria,” said Meiri who uses his environment as part of the picture he creates.  

Meir’s work is well-known in Israel, but he has also been commissioned to create murals in the US, Argentina, Germany and China, where Israel’s embassy commissioned him to paint a mural on the wall surrounding a Beijing elementary school. 

More recently, he began conducting workshops to get members of the community involved in this art process. Under his guidance, employees have gone out and helped to paint their own office walls, while high school learners have been able to leave their mark, bringing communities together in more ways than one.

He has found it very interesting to tour and see the history of the country which inspires his art work. People working together give the atmosphere to what is created and he hopes that the children in the orphanage will be happier with their new cheerful building.

Meiri will also be doing murals in Cape Town after driving through the Garden Route and said that from what he had already seen of South Africa, he would return.

 

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Denis Solomons

    Jul 8, 2015 at 9:25 am

    ‘Do we need him in this country ! ?’

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Lifestyle/Community

Shabbat Around The World beams out from Jozi

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More than 75 devices around the globe logged in to Beit Luria’s World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Shabbat Around the World programme on Friday, 15 January.

Whether it was breakfast time in California, tea time in Europe, or time to break challah in Johannesburg, participants logged in to take part in Beit Luria’s Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Among those participating were Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the president of the WUPJ; chairperson Carole Sterling; and Rabbi Nathan Alfred, the head of international relations. Singers Tulla Eckhart and Brian Joffe performed songs from a global array of artists, along with Toto’s Africa to add a little local flair to the service. After kiddish was said and bread was broken, Rabbi Bergman thanked Beit Luria for hosting the WUPJ. The shul looks forward to more collaborations with its global friends in the future.

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Lifestyle/Community

UJW Sewing School graduates model creations

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The outfits modelled by graduates of the Union of Jewish Women’s (UJW’s) Sewing School were all the more spectacular for the fact that some of their creators had never seen a sewing machine prior to the four-month course.

They were modelled at the school’s graduation ceremony at Oxford Shul on 15 December to much excitement and applause.

UJW executive member and Sewing School Manager Ariane Heneck expressed her gratitude to Chido Tsodzo, the school’s superb teacher, and the event ended with a much appreciated lunch for graduates and their invited guests.

The self-empowerment Sewing School for unemployed men and women was started by the UJW 10 years ago. It now has a small production team of ex-students, and some of its graduates have been employed in factories, while others are selling their own creations.

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Israel Rugby 7s to camp with the Blitzbokke

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The thrill-a-minute Rugby 7s have captured the hearts of fans around the world. The Blitzbokke, South Africa’s national Rugby 7s team, ranks second in the world, and is among the most exciting, formidable, and feared of 7s teams.

Exactly 9 191 km away are the Israelis, an emerging rugby nation that has talent, determination, and a world-class coach in South African Kevin Musikanth. Now, these two squads will meet. The Israeli 7s side will be travelling to the SAS Rugby Academy in Stellenbosch to train with the Blitzbokke.

The Blitzbokke will have the opportunity to prepare for the coming 7s rugby season by measuring their skills of play against the Israelis. And the Israelis, well, they will be rubbing shoulders with, and learning from the best in the world and honing their skills for their coming European Rugby season.

“It’s an opportunity for our boys to learn from the world’s best,” says Musikanth. The SAS Rugby Academy is run by the legendary Frankie Horn, a technical expert whose coaching guidelines and methods are second to none in World Rugby 7s.

Musikanth took over as Rugby 15s head coach in Israel in 2018, and in October 2019, he became director of rugby for the Israeli Rugby Union and head coach for the national programmes of both the 15s and the 7s.

Horn visited Israel last December at the behest of Rugby Israel and its supporting Olympic body and since then, the partnership has continued to grow. The upcoming training camp will begin in Israel, where Horn, together with Phil Snyman, the former Blitzbok captain and multiple world champion winner, will spend a week with the players and coaching staff at Wingate, Netanya, the home base of Rugby Israel. They will then all travel to Stellenbosch for a week’s camp with the Blitzbokke.

“We’ve already seen the difference through our partnership with Frankie. Two of our players were spotted by him on his previous trip to Israel, and have been training at SAS on the off-season,” says Musikanth. The two players are Omer Levinson (scrum half) and Yotam Shulman (lock).

Horn, technical advisor to Rugby Israel’s 7s, says “It is a great opportunity for both teams to derive positive benefit from the camp.”

Israel Rugby has been making considerable professional strides since Musikanth took over the reins. Israel 15s played their 100th test match against Cyprus and celebrated with a 34-22 victory.

“We’re in the top 25 in Europe in 15s and in the top 16 in 7s, the toughest, most competitive continent in world rugby,” says Musikanth, “and I can realistically see us setting our sights on the Top 15 and Top 12 respectively in the future.”

Currently, there are three eligible South Africans who are on the Israeli national squad: Jayson Ferera as flanker (Pirates Rugby Club), Daniel Stein as fly half (studying in Israel), and Jared Sichel as prop (Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Cape Town). Eligibility to play for a national team in rugby is stricter than in other sports. One does not qualify just because one has a passport. One has to have had a parent or grandparent that was born in that country or one has to have lived in the country for at least three years.

“With so much Jewish rugby talent around the world, we would be able to put a world-class Israeli national team together if not for the measures that restrict eligibility to national call ups,” says Musikanth.

The Israel Rugby development project was accelerated thanks to Musikanth initiating Bridges through Rugby. This project is the collective effort of a few South African Jewish businessmen who appreciate the long-term vision of Israel becoming a stronger rugby nation. They have come on board to assist with this most opportune tour. National financial support is fixed and, as such, is limited. While the strong players and national coaches will be attending the training camp in Stellenbosch, there will be some that will, unfortunately, have to stay behind.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and coaches. To get to see the best upfront and feed off their knowledge is going to be incredible,” says Musikanth. “Everyone is eager to go, of course, but there is a cap to the support we have in place. We would like to take a development u20 squad as well as coaching staff who would carry the benefits of this into the future. A rugby visit to Stellenbosch can change rugby lives in many respects. Stellenbosch is rugby utopia!”

Rugby aside, with the Israelis and South Africans camping together, the question of what will be for dinner after a gruelling day’s training may be a matter of contention. A tussle for whether to serve boerewors or shwarma may result in a scrum in the SAS dining hall to determine the outcome.

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