In a small art gallery nestled in Jerusalem’s Old City, Kalman Delmoor works to reconnect the Jewish people to their heritage through art highlighting the intricacies of the Hebrew alphabet.
Delmoor, a professional scribe, gives free weekly workshops teaching an eclectic mix of locals, tourists, and yeshiva students how to draw the Hebrew alphabet, which he says adds an entirely new dimension to the rich world of Judaism. “The idea isn’t to train people to become scribes – it’s to open a new path of creativity,” Delmoor told Arutz Sheva.
“I want to give over a creative way of Torah learning,” explained Delmoor. “Instead of drawing flowers, you can learn about the Hebrew letters and I can explain what the Hebrew letters mean in the Jewish tradition. You can get to a high enough level where you can express yourself through the Hebrew letters.”
Stylizing the Hebrew alphabet is Delmoor’s bread and butter. A renowned local artist, whose work was displayed last year on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City by the municipality, Delmoor creates pictures comprised of different letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He says that the Hebrew letters play a monumental role in Judaism, particularly in the study of the mystical aspects of Judaism, such as Kabballah.
Delmoor was born in Minnesota and moved to Israel in 2007. He says he was first introduced to the world of Jewish calligraphy while studying at Otniel, a yeshiva in the South Hebron Hills known for integrating art and music into Jewish tradition. Delmoor became obsessed with the craft, even practicing copying down the Hebrew letters with a feather and ink while serving as a combat soldier in the Paratrooper Brigades, a practice which he admits “earned me some strange looks”.
After his army service, Delmoor opened up his own art gallery in Jerusalem’s Old City in order to promote his blend of the Hebrew letters and art. To walk into his studio is to be enveloped in a vivid world of color. Delmoor makes marriage contracts, maps of Israel, and illustrations of events in Jewish history by connecting long strings of Biblical passages and Zionist phrases.
Delmoor rapidly started to gain attention, and the strategic location of his gallery caused his workshop to be swamped with tourists and Birthright participants. When meeting with foreigners, Delmoor says that he makes sure to highlight the rich history art has historically played in Judaism, and the link between the letters and the Jewish religion. “It’s all about connecting to the Torah, not just learning about the intricacies of Jewish law,” he said.
A high point for Delmoor was being commissioned by UN Watch to create a custom painting for former Mexican Ambassador to the UN Andres Roemer, who was fired from his position after refusing to support a UN resolution denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Delmoor has also made pieces for French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and American conservative writer and pundit Dennis Prager.
“Even if someone has no background in Judaism, I can explain to him what the letters are, what’s the location of the letters in the Torah, how the Torah has to be handwritten and not printed,” added Delmoor. According to the scribe, his seminar teaching unaffiliated Jews how to write their names in Hebrew – along with a detailed explanation of each and every letter – is especially popular.
“I’m not forcing anyone to believe in anything. I’m not telling them to follow Jewish law – I show them what the facts are,” explains Delmoor.
“Just like every single letter is important, and without a single letter the Torah is invalid, so too each Jew is important and has his own role.”