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Thursday, September 18, 2014
Elderly Artist, environmentalist, young families fly with Nefesh B’Nefesh
  • Dafna Katz, 12, of North Woodmere, is pictured packing in her room, Tuesday, June 22, 2010. Katz and her family are moving to Chashmonaim in the West Bank in August.
By Sergey Kadinsky
Issue of June 25, 2010/ 13 Tammuz, 5770
His life’s work is a portrayal of the alleys, people, and events of Jerusalem. On Tuesday, genre painter Itshak Holtz, 85, and his wife Gertrude, 82, took a one-way flight, making aliyah and taking up residence in the city of their dreams. With only a day to go before their flight, Gertrude Holtz was contacting banks, requesting address changes to reflect the move. In their apartment near the southern edge of Washington Heights, suitcases, boxes and portraits lined a narrow hallway. “It was once all Jewish, with a synagogue on every block. Some are churches today,” said Holtz. The nearest synagogue, the Washington Heights Congregation on West 179th Street, is almost a mile from their home. “We are at an age where we do not have to look for work,” said Holtz. “Our son and rabbi live there and they found us a nice apartment.” A world away from New York, Itshak Holtz’s portraits almost exclusively portray the residents and street scenes of the Meah Shearim and Geulah neighborhoods. “I grew up in Jerusalem, and it grew on me,” said Holtz. “I feel very strongly about the subject and landscape of Yerushalayim.” Born in Poland, Holtz made his first aliyah in 1935. After graduating from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, he married Gertrude, and they moved to New York in 1950, where he also studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. Following a year of study in Israel, their son Arie made aliyah, becoming a mechanical engineer. Much later, their rabbi, George Finkelstein, also made the move, becoming director of the sizable Heichal Shlomo synagogue in Jerusalem. “Whenever we come to Israel, we get together. The Finkelsteins are like a brother and sister to us,” said Holtz. “They found us the apartment.” The nonprofit Nefesh B’Nefesh provided the Holtzes with a free flight and assistance with the paperwork and bureaucracy that accompanies a move to Israel.
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