There’s so much that draws me to the world of comics. I love how comics are creatively expansive and push our imaginations beyond the limits of space and time. I appreciate how comic conventions bring people together to celebrate a shared love of comics and creative expression, while also giving me an excuse to dress as Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus and brighten people’s days.
I also love how comics have always felt very Jewish. I’m drawn to science fiction in particular, and Star Trek especially. We know the notorious hand symbol of Star Trek, Spock’s Vulcan salute, that pays homage to Judaism’s priestly blessing. And Star Trek’s Starfleet and Federation of Planets felt very Tikkun Olam-centered, with their grounding in a hope of doing good and repairing not only the world, but the universe. The collection of beings from planets across the quadrant figuring out how to live together on the star base of Deep Space Nine showed me a place where I would have loved to grow up-where everyone shares in the fact that they’re all a little different, which makes them all a little bit the same, and binds them to a hope that they can find a way to live together.
When Be’chol Lashon was invited to be a partner with the Center for Jewish History on The Jewish Comic Experience (JewCE), the alignment of passions was ignited from the start. Under the direction of Be’chol Lashon’s director Julian Voloj, and with the support of FairSquare Comics and the leadership of comic creator Fabrice Sapolsky, Be’chol Lashon’s Director of Education, Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder, and I had the opportunity to partner in the creation of three true stories for a comic anthology highlighting diversity.
The comic anthology, Hyphen, showcases three stories; Souks Soukhaseum in “Belonging,” Haftam Yitzhak in “Sigd Here, Sigd There, Sigd Everywhere,” and Dubbs Weinblatt in “Mirror Mirror.” These comics tell their real life experiences and highlight a range of diversity of Jewish life. As we say on our online publication, Jewish&, at Be’chol Lashon, “we believe storytelling holds the power to help us more deeply know ourselves, relate to each other more meaningfully, and connect us to the history, memory and tradition of being Jewish.” This anthology, and JewCE is a living testament to this.
The anthology was just one aspect of Be’chol Lashon’s involvement with JewCE. The convention itself is a celebration of Jewish comics and their creators. It brings together panels, showcases creative content, and is a chance for anyone who loves comics as much as we do to be in community. The Center for Jewish History also has an ongoing exhibit open now through December. The exhibit showcases how Jewish comic creators, and Jewish themes have been pivotal to the field from the start.
As part of the Center’s exhibit, Be’chol Lashon was also able to play a role in developing the educational resources for teachers and young people visiting. Great for all ages, the interactive exhibits allowed for young people to explore themes around their own identity while learning about the comic creation process. A hope is that students, young people, and anyone who attends is able to leave with a greater appreciation for Jewish comic creativity and an understanding of the process of comic creation, while also using comics as a way to better understand themselves.
We hope you’ll be able to attend the convention in person in NY November 11-12. You can get your tickets today! Along with the great presentations and discussions at the convention, you’ll even have access to our full anthology.
Be’chol Lashon will look forward to continuing to share the wonderful racial, ethnical, and cultural diversity of the Jewish people around the globe and universe with you through comics and beyond.
Comic Credit: Written by: Haftam Yitzhak with Tani Prell*, Art by Guy Moshayov, Colors by Morby
Jewstice League Credit: Fabrice Sapolsky