When most people think of a spiritual awakening, they don't necessarily think of such a thing taking place at the GAP. But then again, artist Orit Arfa isn't really into conventionality.
While walking down the streets of Manhattan seven years ago, dressed in her ankle-length skirt and modest Orthodox clothing, Arfa caught a reflection of herself in a revolving door.
"I felt I looked really shleppy, and it didn't really reflect who I was inside and what I was feeling," she said.
Arfa immediately marched straight to the GAP and into a new pair of jeans. "I was jumping up and down! There was this freedom. This spiritual freedom. It seemed like the whole world opened up for me."
For Arfa, the experience was not only religiously liberating, it was creatively liberating.
"I knew that part of my challenge was to break the stereotypes of the ideal Jewish woman, both for myself, and I wanted to paint the foremothers as sexual, sensual, beautiful, vibrant women," Arfa said.
For a self-described spoiled American -- nails unerringly polished, paprika curls without a misdirected loop, ensembles color coordinated -- Blossom Siegel's first visit to Israel was a transformative experience. It also was a boon to Orange County's Jewish community by awakening a tireless activist and philanthropist.
"The first trip to Israel changed my life," said Siegel, who is the honoree at a scholarship fundraising dinner Jan. 25 for Irvine's Tarbut V'Torah Community Day School at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Irvine.
When Siegel saw the Israelis financial and emotional needs on her 1985 visit, she came to the conclusion that vigorous American Jewish communities ensured Israel's lifeline.