Hakham Yishak Kadouri

Rav Kadouri (6)

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Hakham Yishak Kadouri

HakhamKadouri was born in Ottoman Turkish Iraq around 1898. In the Sephardic tradition, the young YishakKadouri was a man of the world and a man of Torah. He started out working with his hands in the trade of binding books. His education took him to Hakham Yosef Haim z”l (known as the Ben Ish Hai), before he was 13. HakhamYishakKadouri would go on to become one of the final disciples of the Ben Ish Hai – the last leader of Iraqi Jewry under the Turkish sultan.

When the Turkish lands fell following World War I, the new boundaries of modern Iraq were drawn and it was during this period of turmoil and international political change that the young YishakKadouriimmigrated to the Holy Land.

Once there, he studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and became a student of the kabbalists who had studied in Jerusalem since the beginning of the 19th century. This group included Hakham Salman Eliyahu z”l, father of the former RishonL’Tzion, Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordehai Eliyahu z”l.

He was married to his wife, RabbanitDoritKadouri, and together had many children, grand children and great-grandchildren.

In his later years, HakhamKadouri lived in the Bukharim neighborhood of Jerusalem and was associated with the NachalatYishak Yeshiva. Many Jews, in Israel and abroad, possess a gold or silver amulet made by Rabbi Kadouri. It was said he had learned from the great kabbalists of previous generations the practice of writing amulets that could heal, enhance fertility, or bring success. Every weekend throngs of people would visit the rabbi to kiss his hand out of respect, a Sephardic custom, or receive a special blessing for marriage, health or financial stability.

HakhamKadouri had been hospitalized and was in the intensive care unit at Jerusalem’s BikurHolim Hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia. Prayers and well wishes streamed in from all over the world. Former chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”l visited him at the hospital and called upon well-wishers worldwide to recite the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) on his behalf. The current Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, held a special prayer session for HakhamKadouri at the Western Wall.

An estimated of 200,000 to 300,000 people attended HakhamKadouri’s funeral. He was one of the last Kabbalists schooled in the Sephardic traditions that developed over many centuries in the Ottoman lands where Jews found refuge for hundreds of years.

Mikhail ChapiroBorn in 1938 in Belorussia, he was captivated by painting since his early childhood. Thanks to his teachers, Peter Chernyshevsky and Boris Zvenigorodsky, the artists of great experience and talent, this endowment became his predilection, the raison d’être of his life. After 6 years of studies, he graduated from the Mukhina Institute of Arts and Industrial Design. He worked as a stylist for 7 years in the capital of Siberia, city of Novosibirsk.

He moved to Moscow in 1974 and since 1977 till 1987 he regularly exhibited in the Russia’s famous underground avant-garde centre at Malaya Gruzinskaya 28, which in 1981 became the home of his solo exhibition. Only with Perestroyka he was widely recognized in Russia. From 1988 to 1990 his paintings were exhibited at the Muscovite Modern Art Gallery MARS.

He was recognized by the intellectual elite. Great Russian ballerina Maya Plesetskaya, 3-times Olympic Champion in figure ice-skating Irina Rodnina, Nobel Prize Laureates Academicians Sakharov, Frank, Prokhorov – those are just few of the most prominent people who knew Chapiro and whose portraits he did.

In 1990 Mikhail Chapiro immigrated to Canada. He settled in Toronto and immediately joined the city’s artistic life. The “Hittite Gallery” held his solo exhibition in 1992. In 1993, he moved to Montreal, being fascinated by the singular charm of this metropolis and its people. Being highly productive, Chapiro has constantly enriched his collection with fresh subjects. In 1996 he had a solo exhibition at the Elgar community center in Verdun (a Montreal district).

While Chapiro’s themes always remained portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, animals, and flowers, his style has gradually evolved from a merely realistic formalist expression towards an unique painting technique allowing to express at best the softness and subtlety that forms the bottom line of the artist’s philosophy. Mikhail Chapiro is, by his substance, perception of the world, and even training, is a figurative, objective, realistic painter. What characterizes his painting is softness, subtlety, implicitly.

However, in some works from different periods, he had come close- and still does so today- to abstraction: mostly with his nudes and flowers, sometimes in portraiture and landscapes. Abstract painting has always fascinated him: during his Moscovite period in the Eighties, he created series of abstract compositions, which he continued once in Canada, in both Toronto and Montreal.

The rationale behind his work, what triggered him is as it has always been, asking the “What?” question-that is, he needs unequivocally an idea fuelling his creativity.
What he tells with one or another abstract work may be philosophical reflections about life, death, the good, the bad, the passage of our soul from the material world (the life on Earth) into the thin world (the soul’s life in the Cosmos); the return of our soul into material world- a sort of an infinite transfiguration-, and so on. It’s only then that he would care about the composition, texture, color, etc.

Abstract painting is for him the most interesting experiment, one of his art’s facets. Whether his paintings are realistic or abstract, his approach is equally sincere.