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I was born at sunrise after a stormy night and I was named Ori (in Hebrew – my light). In first grade I learned to read and write pretty quickly, and one day I took upon my young ambitious self the mission of writing in my yellow memo pad the script of a movie I saw with my family during the weekend. In trying to describe the sex scene, I wrote the Hebrew verb Hizdaynu (they made love). When my teacher read this, she sent me to the headmaster’s office. I got very scared and hid in the bathroom instead. A few days later I ended up in the shrink’s room, who stated that I should skip a grade. I did, but I also stopped my creative writing attempts for about twelve years, until two things happened simultaneously: death of my father and finding my first typewriter in the Jaffa flea market.
During my army service, I carried a letter sheet folded in 4 in my uniform pocket and wrote amateur poetry I did the mistake of self publishing. I also brought my grey portable Hermes Baby typewriter to the desert army base and wrote experimental prose and fake army slogan ads which I posted around the base. Some of these created tension between me and the sergeant. Writing and having an audience kept me sane, sort of, during that period. Though I was one of the worst soldiers ever served in the IDF I find a lot of satisfaction these days writing about these experiences.
After the army service I did a three and a half days solo pilgrim hike from next to Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which was an interesting spiritual experience. I got into a weird art school from the balcony of which you could see a shopping center and the beautiful hills of south Jerusalem (School of Visual Arts, graduated 2007.) I did various different experiments in participatory art and kept with my habit of posting creative writing on the walls, which generated different responses than in a the army base. Besides working as an environmental tour guide and teacher (2000-2008) I learned at Hofen Institute for Progressive Education (graduated 2008). I’m very thankful for this exciting, enriching and supportive learning environment. It probably sounds like a cliche but it changed my life. I learned how to learn and how to teach in a way that is most suitable to me, how to make a group work productive, healthy and fun and how every person is different, is a miracle, and should be treated as such. We also had a kitchen, and I realized that cooking for community and friends is also a wonderful way to express myself (community restaurant and event organizer, Pirates of Jerusalem gallery, 2007-8).
Afterwards I participated at the Jerusalem YMCA MVP program (Moderate Voices for Peace, 2008-2009), a Jewish Arab Playback theatre group that performed in Israel and in Pittsburgh PA. I met Ana in Brooklyn and we got three kids now (Maayan, Sasha and Zakai. Zakai is named after Rabban Yokhanan Ben Zakai who helped transform Judaism from a religion of sacrificing animals to a one of prayer and study). Ana is a documentary filmmaker, and when her 82-year-old father calls her in Yiddish “Channalle” I get very emotional.
Recently I started “Alfassi Books”, a community publishing house based on the gift economy and a provider of unique artistic services. I published a picture book memoir, A Jew Killed, a collection of my writings on social media platforms, Facebook Statuses and a series of interactive children’s books, The Magic Bagel, in which children can make their own versions of what would happen to them if they eat a magic bagel. I perform with my letter writing service regularly and create Philatelic Meditations, a snail mail comics strip. I run the Where’s My Typewriter? program, a matchmaking service between writers and typewriters and designed a Sketchbook/Journal for the multitasking artist. I’m a board member of the JMR (Jewish Men Retreat). I teach adults and children and lead a writing group and programs at Beacon Hebrew Alliance.
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