‘One of the Nicest Birthdays I’ve ever had’

‘One of the Nicest Birthdays I’ve ever had’

Sep 15, 2008

Shalom Zisser is known for many achievements and milestones in his life: A Holocaust survivor and immigrant to Israel from Belgium, he is also a celebrated artist whose work enhances the homes of his many admirers. But to the residents of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, Zisser is simply a friend, and the man who chose to celebrate his 85th birthday together with them. And although it is the custom to receive gifts on your birthday, Zisser instead gifted them with a beautiful painting to brighten their surroundings. 

It was through hearing a chance television interview with IDF Major General (Res) Doron Almog, Chairman of ALEH Negev, that Zisser was first introduced to the pioneering rehabilitative village that serves as a home for life for severely disabled children and young adults.  In the interview, Doron described his feelings as father of Eran, a cognitively disabled young man who was one of the village’s first residents and the moving spirit behind its monumental undertaking. 

Zisser vividly remembers how he was first struck, and then profoundly moved, by Doron’s words: “The beauty of their environment greatly influences how our special children feel and behave,” said Doron.  Zisser took these words to heart, and decided then and there to create his own artistic offering to enhance the surroundings at ALEH Negev. 

“I don’t know who received and who gave more,” said Zisser, visibly moved by the warm reception he was accorded during his visit. “I hope and pray the painting I created will bestow hope, just as this village gives strength and hope to all those who live here, pass through and are touched by its life mission.” 

“Art is not what you see,” noted Edgar Degas, “but what you make others see.” On the occasion of his 85th birthday, we are pleased to offer our heartiest congratulations to Shalom Zisser, and wish him many more years of the gift of artistry, and the continued ability to let others see the beauty in life – as he does.

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