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Yitzhak and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the Holy Land

November 2nd, 2004

To mark the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos in Mexico), the International Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe, New Mexico, invites artists and groups to create community altars. On this day, Mexicans traditionally visit the graves of their close kin. The kind of offerings they adorn the graves with are often the subject of the installations presented at the Museum. To reflect the despair I feel around the Middle East situation and my yearning for a peaceful solution, I chose to bring into being the tomb of two fictitious persons* from the Holy Land. Yitzhak was Jew from Jerusalem and Leila a Moslem 

from Hebron, Palestine. They met and fell in love. Despite the immensity of their love, both tribes prohibited it. Only in death were they united, Yitzhak and Leila—the Romeo and Juliet of the Holy Land. We mourn the passing of these two beautiful souls. Some of us believe they did not die in vain... that their story is universal...* that their love symbolizes the yearning of many on both sides—a yearning that is increasingly evident. Let's welcome them back on this Day of the Dead and bless them with the prayers of our hearts for pointing to the Way of Love.

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Interestingly, research produced the story of a Jewish/Palestinian couple who were ostracized because of their love—not totally surprising as it is such a universal story.

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