When is an instrument of death and destruction also a thing of beauty? When it has passed through the hands of Israeli metal sculptor Yaron Bob.
Bob, who is also a computer teacher, lives near the border with Gaza and Egypt, in the small moshav of Yated, where he has both his studio and home. When Kassam rockets are fired into Israel from Gaza, Bob gathers shards of metal from the missiles and turns them into pieces of art, including Judaica, jewelry, and rose-adorned sculptures and candlesticks.
In an artistic sense, Bob “beats swords into plowshares” and donates his profits from the sale of the “Rockets into Roses” items to charity.
On Friday, April 20, Bob will present his story and artwork at the Marlboro Jewish Center in a program celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Bob himself has had several close calls with incoming fire, he told NJJN during a Facebook video chat. About 10 years ago, he said, a rocket fell about three tenths of a mile away from where he was.
“So I decided to take all the rockets and propel them from darkness to light,” Bob said. “I found it was better to work with metal than with a shrink. This is how I take care of my own trauma and use it to help others.”
As he walked around his studio — strewn with pieces of bent and twisted metal, which the Israeli police collect for him — Bob demonstrated how he cuts the metal scraps and melts, molds, and sculpts them to form a rose. His only tools are a hammer, chisel, and furnace; each rose takes three to four hours to create.
“Then I mount the rose of Kassam,” said Bob.
Among the dignitaries who have been presented with his sculptures are former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, United States ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, and, most recently, Vice President Mike Pence. A large chanukiah was also presented to the European Parliament.
Besides the remnants of the Kassam rockets, Bob also gets pieces of missiles fired by the Iron Dome defense system — which intercept rockets fired into Israel — and from them he designs jewelry and, especially, mezuzahs, another form of protection, albeit spiritual. Picking up cut squares, Bob showed how he burnishes the metal fragments and fashions them into mezuzahs.
“What is sent to destroy Israel will protect your home,” he said, claiming that “Anyone who puts [a mezuzah] on their home has a full guarantee that no rockets from Gaza will come to their home.”
He takes only enough funds from the sale of his creations to pay for tools and operating expenses. The rest goes to such charitable causes as building bomb shelters, aiding Israel Defense Forces soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and supporting children’s charities in the United States.
Bob said he came upon his passion for working with metal when, as a youngster, he kept a fork he accidentally stepped on.
“I went home and started to play with the fork,” Bob said, and he transformed it into a napkin holder with a snail-shaped top. Intrigued, he began making other items from forks. And in high school, he told a skeptical principal he wanted to teach students to make artwork from forks.
“This is what I do with kids,” said Bob, who visits Israeli hospitals, entertaining children with his fork art. On his visit to the U.S., he said, he hopes to visit with children in New York hospitals. “This is my thing,” he said, and the fork artworks “last longer than balloons.”
Bob sells his art through his website, rocketsintoroses.com; items purchased or ordered at the Marlboro Jewish Center will be priced at a 30 percent discount.