Monday, March 12, 2012

'Pop Art Rabbi' in Bernards creates works full of color 

Rabbi Yitzchok Moully dresses in the austere traditional attire of
Orthodox Judaism. For Shabbat, he wears a white shirt under a long black coat that drapes below the knees of his black trousers.

Less traditionally, atop his head sits a hot pink yarmulke.

"The pink yarmulke makes me less threatening and more approachable," said
Moully of the Basking Ridge section of Bernards. "It's about finding
common ground."
Besides his full-time rabbinical work, Moully makes art whenever possible.
Through his artwork, as with his signature yarmulke, he proclaims that
behind the black-and-white appearances, the Hasidic world brims with
rich, joyous colors. He has become known as the "pop art Rabbi."

"I see my art as an extension of my rabbinic responsibilities," Moully
said. "I'm a rabbi first and foremost. I make art at night — when I

The art he
produces is going in new directions, and taking Moully in new
directions, too. In the past few months, he has exhibited his work
throughout the metropolitan area, and been featured on a recent segment
of the television program "Oprah's Next Chapter."

The 33-year-old Moully serves as youth director at the Chabad Jewish Center in Basking Ridge with his wife, Batsheva, who acts as program director. They have four children, Mendle, 8, Sholi, 6, Miriam Sarah, 4, and
Mushka, 2. Moully mentors bar and bat mitzvah students, leads a Chabad
teens group and co-directs the Hebrew school, among other duties.

Marsha Nagelberg of Basking Ridge helped found the Chabad center, and met
Moully when he came to the area in 2004. She knows him as a rabbi and
artist, and many of his works hang on the walls of her home.

"The first work I got as a thank-you gift — it's of those dancing Hasidic
guys," Nagelberg said. "Later, while walking through the hall at the
Chabad house, I saw his 'Tree of Life' and fell in love with it."
Nagelberg enjoys Moully's charismatic zeal for his faith, his art and his work
with Jewish youths. He invents innovative ways for making Judaism
exciting and interesting for the young people he mentors, like
introducing drumming sessions at the center. Nagelberg said Moully's art and personality testify that beneath the stark garb, Chabad rejoices in the multiplicity of life and emphasizes making dynamic choices.


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