‘Heart torn in half’: Graffiti artist gifts portrait of young terror victims to their mother

Benzi Brofman spontaneously drew brothers Asher (8) and Yaakov (6) Paley after their murder in a ramming attack, touched by their innocent, smiling faces.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A graffiti artist gifted a painting he spontaneously made of two young terror victims to their mother at a religious commemoration event Sunday evening, having been touched by their innocent faces.

Eight-year-old Asher Paley and his six-year-old brother Yaakov were murdered along with newly-wed chassid Shlomo Alter Lederman by a terrorist who rammed into a bus stop where they were standing on February 10th. Another brother was lightly injured and their father was seriously hurt in the attack and is still in the hospital.

Benzi Brofman was on vacation in London at the time, but he saw pictures of the boys on Facebook and when he came back home to the northern town of Migdal HaEmek, he simply began to draw.

“As an artist, and particular one who very much loves to paint faces and portraits, their gaze left me no choice,” he told the ultra-religious news site Behadrei Hadarim. “I returned, made time, and painted, without thinking twice.”

He documented the process, embedding the song “My Heart” by popular singer-songwriter Yishai Ribo in his video.
“I chose the song … [because] it starts “My heart has been torn in half,” and that’s exactly how he felt, he said.

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When he was finished, he posted the clip to his own Facebook account, asking a favor of anyone who saw it.

“The boys’ penetrating gazes and smiles that seem to be one broad smile fused in my heart as a painting in the memory of Asher Menachem and Yaakov Yisrael Paley. It’s important for me to give the painting to their family. Whoever can help with this, it will be much appreciated,” he wrote.

On Sunday evening, he got his chance at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center in an event that was arranged for the religious public by the children’s mother, Devorah, to strengthen faith in God after such a tragic event.

When he brought out the large painting, the audience burst into applause.

“I didn’t think I’d come,” he began, “but if the hands drew they also have bestow.”

He then spoke poetically of how he felt while he painted.

“Through the eyes you can see everything – the voice, the movements, a person’s soul,” he said. “And through their eyes I saw light, heard laughter, saw a wonderful mischief. Through their eyes I saw them, I drew for hours, the light and the shadow…yes, I met them for a few hours, and they are no longer – or really, they are [here].”

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Reactions to the gift on religious website Kikar HaShabbat ranged from pleasure over the beauty of the painting to words of appreciation for this gesture as a signal of the Jewish nation’s basic unity by someone who is not a member of the religious community.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the family during the shiva mourning period, he had asked Mrs. Paley if he could keep the photo of her sons that she showed him, so that he could put it in his office because “This tragic story will help me explain to world leaders the difference between the people of Israel and our enemies.”