By Carl Zebrowski
Deborah Dworman Sullum worked fast to put together her current art exhibit at the Marc Chagall Artists’ House in Haifa, Israel. She had to. Her work began only after October 7, when she got the idea to create a piece of art to represent each Israel Defense Forces soldier killed since Hamas attacked.
A former member of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community and well-known international artist and art therapist, Sullum moved to Israel in 1995 and taught art for 25 years at the Anglican International School in Jerusalem. Then she relocated to Haifa.
The piece of art she made in honor of each fallen IDF member was a cast wax soldier. Who knew the material of choice itself would lead to distress about the larger reality? “I saw myself becoming consumed about how much wax to order,” she remembers. “Too little was optimistic. Too much was devastating.”
In truth, whatever the number, the project has been difficult. “There were moments that I could not cast figures quickly enough to keep up with the count,” Sollum says. “I am shaken by the magnitude of the installation, which unfortunately keeps growing.”
With the rising death toll occupying her thoughts, she wanted to make sure not to lose sight of the hostages who remained in Gaza. She decided to craft a suncatcher to represent each one.
“While consumed with grief, I cannot relinquish the hope that there are hostages to bring home,” she says. “It is imperative to me not only to commemorate the deceased but also to be a voice for the living.”
So, 129 molten-glass suncatchers are also part of the Chagall House exhibit, joining the more-than-200 wax soldiers. Each glasswork hangs from the ceiling, catching the light.
Lisa Fraenkel, a prominent member of the Lehigh Valley community, an artist herself, and a well-known supporter of the arts, alerted Hakol to Sullum’s exhibit.
“Debbie and I have been close friends for 37 years, first in Allentown and now in Israel,” she says. “I have always admired her artistic talents and her deep commitment to Israel.
“I couldn’t be prouder of her response to the October 7 tragedy. Her work is beautiful and deeply moving.”