Spotlighting Israel: the St-ART Up Nation
Omanoot.com, the newly launched web portal showcasing the vitality of Israeli film, music, literature and the visual arts, connects people with Israel and the nation beyond “the conflict.” The site is attracting a global audience, including visitors from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Indonesia.
Omanoot – “art” in Hebrew – is the brainchild of Edoe Cohen, who received a grant from the ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators, a worldwide network of young social entrepreneurs created by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman. Cohen worked with ROIers from around the world to develop the site.
“Everybody knows about Israeli technology and start ups, but the same creative energy is pouring into the arts,” said Cohen, 32, a serial artistic entrepreneur based in Tel Aviv who was bringing Israeli performers like Idan Raichel and HaDag Nachash to US campuses while still a university student. “We want to bring that energy to the world. Why do people fall in love with Israel? It’s not the politics. It’s the culture and the vibrancy of our society.”
Omanoot.com today spotlights Israel’s flourishing film scene, including documentaries and shorts by film students at Israel’s leading film schools (with English captions). Eventually, it will offer full-length Israeli features. In the coming months, Cohen and his 15-strong volunteer staff from North America, the UK, France and Israel will add music, literature and other visual art forms to the site.
Cohen is passionate about exposing the entire gamut of Israeli art. “Israel’s cultural diversity is remarkable,” he emphasized. “We’re committed to featuring artists of every ethnicity and religion. Nor will we shy away from art that might be critical of Israel. That’s part of being a thriving democracy.”
While Omanoot.com is a commercial venture supported by advertising, it sponsors Omanoot.org, its teaching and curriculum arm. Jewish day schools and Hebrew schools in the US are using the lesson plans, as is Jerusalem’s Ma’aleh Film School.