Artist trying to picture world with no fences

THROUGHOUT her 50 years in Israel, artist and poet Helen Bar-Lev has reinvented herself in Jerusalem, Safed and the Upper Galilee, guided by intuition and a fearless love for new adventures.

“A lot are shocked that I do that,” said Bar-Lev. “I think one of the most incredible moments was when I was sitting in Jerusalem with my back to the wall of the Nature Museum and sketching the German Colony from afar. A man walked by, he stopped, and we started to talk.”

That was in 1982. He was a novelist. They started a relationship, and it wasn’t long before they decided to look for a larger place to live.

Bar-Lev heard that the Ethiopian monks had an apartment available in the back of their historic domed church on Ethiopia Street.

The monks moved their schoolroom so that the couple could have a two-room apartment overlooking a street.

In one of the many poems she wrote during her four years as a tenant of the Ethiopian monks, she remarked: “The nuns were young and beautiful, their voices resonating like delicate bells” when they sang Vespers.

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