Thanks to a handful of Jewish artists, colorful and cheerful paintings that depict mitzvot such as giving tzedakah, Torah learning and the lighting of Shabbos candles greet pedestrians and drivers around Pico-Robertson.
On Shenandoah St. and Pico Blvd., Glatt Mart shoppers now walk past two once gray utility boxes that have been turned into Jewish pop art. With pops of turquoise, orange, red, purple and bright green, a utility box cheerfully announces to passers-by: âI â¤ï¸ Kosher âand the other represents four siddurim.
Other utility boxes in Pico feature mezuzahs, tefillin, and the aleph bet – all created by Sheina Dorn, who in the days leading up to the high season on holy days set out to brighten up the neighborhood.
“I am here on this Earth to beautify my family and my home, but I am also here to disseminate Jewish art.” – Sheina Dorn
âI am here on this Earth to beautify my family and my home, but I am also here to spread Jewish art,â said Dorn, who grew up in a Chabad house in the suburbs of Montreal, where his father was a chalia’h. âI grew up being proud to be Jewish: walking with my back straight, saying to myself, ‘I’m proud to be different, and I’m not afraid at all.’ I want to share this feeling.
Last year, Dorn painted Shabbos candles on the wall next to Bais Chaya Mushka, and now she updates the candle lighting times every week.
Dorn said she searched for the space because she wanted to paint the positive flames of the Shabbos candles to replace the negative flames the building experienced in a fire last year. In front of Bais Bezalel Chabad, which houses a children’s library, she painted children reading on piles of Jewish books.
Walking down Cashio Blvd., east of Robertson, pedestrians may spot an unusually colorful parked bus that represents the “Na Nach Nachma Nachman MumanâSong that the Breslovers, disciples of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, sing.
The bus, which is a ‘mobile street art’, is used by Breslovers who drive and spread the joy by playing music and having dance parties. Artist Pico Shlome J. Hayun created it, and he also manages an art collective of 27 artists whose work he promotes.
Hayun, whose signature is a hamsa, an Israeli symbol that protects against “bad energy,” as he described it, also created the colorful menorah on the Mamilla restaurant on Pico Blvd. with Dorn. The last Chanukah, the menorah mural was part of a collection of eight menorahs painted by artists in eight different cities around the world. It was part of a non-centralized Jewish street art fair that artist Pico Hillel Smith, a muralist whose art appears on the back wall of Bibi Bakery and inside YULA Girls High School, created during COVID.
âWe need to enlighten the nations, and street art is a great way to make people smile,â Hayun said.
Rabbi Yitzchok Moully, who painted menorahs in different cities, said Chanukah street art expresses the idea that “we don’t just light our menorahs indoors, but [also] outside to spread the light.
With Dorn, Moully spray painted a wall by Cheder Menachem on La Cienega Blvd. which represents an open blue take refuge which spans 70 feet. The letters of the aleph bet rise from the book.
âWhen we learn from a sefer, we bring those letters to life, and that’s the idea of ââthe flying aleph bet,â Moully said. “Every mitzvah we do creates this explosion of energy to transform the world.”
Dorn’s students, who go to the cheder and are in pre-1a through 4, helped create the mural, pushing the 18-foot scaffolding that supported the artists and painting in the stenciled letters of the aleph bet.
Instead of using spray paint to spread negative messages like some other graffiti do, Dorn wanted to portray positivity.
âLet’s reverse that and create Jewish pride instead,â she said.
Moully said he is inspired by the idea that everyone has a special talent, and that he or she should use it accordingly.
âEach of us has a gift: a gift that no one else has. We each have a responsibility to use these gifts to impact the world in a positive and meaningful way. “