Dear Mr. Sneiv: Motherly Advice for a Hamptons Artist

Dura-Europos Synagogue Painting
Even the Dura-Europos Synagogue Paintings depict a nude woman! Photo: Public Domain

Dear Mr. Sneiv,

It is with heavy heart that I email you this request. Could you please give me some advice about my son Ezra, who resides on the East End?

Five years ago my late husband and I moved to Palm Beach from Westhampton, where we had raised our two sons. Our eldest son Doron is a respected doctor in New York City. He calls me every day to check on my welfare. He is such a good boy. Ezra, on the other hand, dropped out of law school to pursue a life as an artist. He seldom calls and when he does it is only to tell me he needs to borrow money from his trust account. When he was young, he was such a devoted son. He went to synagogue and was very polite to his mother. Last year he did not even bother to visit me during the High Holidays.

I fear he may be in the company of bad influences. You know the type I am talking about. The ones that paint nudes. I have begged him to give up the notion of being an artist and to go back to law school. I feel like I am adrift and with nowhere else to turn…I am asking for your guidance.

– A Heartbroken Jewish Mother


Dear Heartbroken Jewish Mother,

Your email touched me very deeply. I took the opportunity to reach out to Ezra. I tracked him down at his studio in East Hampton. He was just finishing a beautiful painting that he had already named “To a Loving Mother.” In fact, his work was very good and reminded me of Edward Ben Avram, the very successful Jewish artist who resides in Jerusalem. In case you are not familiar with his work, he paints in creamy sensual tones, often incorporating symbols such as doves, menorah and Shabbat candles. I had the privilege to view Avram’s works at the Artexpo New York in 1985.

There is no need to worry. Ezra appears to have chosen the route of painting clothed subjects. But even if he was painting nudes, you should not be concerned. Even one of the third century Dura-Europos synagogue paintings depicts a nude figure standing in the water and holding a child!

I hope this helps to assuage your fears. I suggest you give Ezra the freedom to continue to express his artistic talent and when he does ask for money…send double the amount requested. From what I can see, you did not just raise a son, but also a very fine painter.  By the way, he told me to tell you he loves his mother very much.

– Mr. Sneiv

Ask Mr. Sneiv for advice in the comments section below, or email him here. (Please add “Dear Mr. Sneiv” in the subject line to make sure he gets it!)

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