The facts of the Fogel massacre in the northern Israeli community of Itamar are simple. On Shabbos night, March 12, 2011, two teenagers from a neighboring Palestinian village, ages 18 and 19, entered Itamar and then the Fogel home and stabbed to death Udi Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and three of their children: Yoav, 11; Elad, 4; and Hadas, 3 months old. Two other Fogel children were in another room of the house and were not discovered by the attackers. Tamar Fogel, 12, returned home around 12:45am, found her house locked and got a neighbor to help her get in. That is when she discovered her slain parents and siblings.
As a larger than life subject I utilized the tradition of early Renaissance tragic depictions of the crucifixion and lamentation of Jesus. Giotto’s images of mourning angels and heavenly hosts in the Arena Chapel in Padua seemed like the only vehicles that could express our Jewish grief over what happened and God’s apparent silence. While making this painting cannot return the Fogels to us, it may make it harder for us to forget them and what they gave for the right to live in the land of Israel.
Showing Heaven and angels is the first step to interrogating God. A fearful step for sure, and yet something I cannot flinch from.