We became aware of Rafi Bernstein’s work through his wife Jessica (Peekababy.com) and his mother in-law, our good friend and colleague Gloria Kobrin (Kosherbygloria.com). We had always heard about his talent, and finally had the opportunity to explore it.
Rafi Bernstein, is an SVA (School of Visual Arts) educated artist and graphic designer, born and raised in Jerusalem. He moved to New York in 1999 after completing his IDF service. Rafi’s art reflects a balance between tradition and a contemporary urban aesthetic. Although he works in several mediums, his goal is to create art to reflect the client taste and personality. In fact, in designing mezuzahs, Rafi has created a website allowing his clients to design their own. More about this later…
Rafi’s design work has won a number of awards and has been published in Print Magazine and Graphic Design USA Magazine. His paintings, silkscreens, prints, photographs and computer art have been exhibited and sold in private exhibitions.
We were delighted to interview Rafi, find out more about his background and his artistic creations. His replies have been edited for brevity.
KE Did you know that you were interested in art and design at a young age?
RB Yes, I remember at a young age being very interested in art supplies in general. I was always doodling in classes. I have always been a very visual learner and was always interested in figuring out how things work and working with my hands
KE Do your early projects hang on your wall or your family’s wall, or on their doors?
RB The earliest work of any real meaning that I can remember is that, as a teenager, I designed and crafted a family name front door sign that was very intricate. In college, at The School of Visual Arts (SVA) I was part of some 3D graphic n exhibits most notable of which I designed and executed the design of a model restaurant. I also staged a self-curated exhibition at a restaurant in my neighborhood and sold several of my art pieces. My aunt who bought three pieces still has them hanging, my parents have pieces hanging in their apartment and, of course, we have some pieces hanging in our apartment as well. And my wife chose one of her favorites, my wooden mezuzot to hang on our front door while my daughter used my acrylic pieces to design her own mezuzah.
KE How does your art express your personal Jewish beliefs? What inspires you?
RB I never really liked the overly ornate and over embellished Judaica what some would call “ungapatchka”.
As in my graphic design work my artwork is clean simple and less fussy.
I'm inspired by ceremonies like Havdalah that are meaningful and can make an impact on the kids life (as they did to me) and try to make like a havdalah set that the family would look forward to using every Saturday night. I love that part of what I do-that I get to be part of families lives and traditions through my artwork.
KE What items can our readers commission for their homes?
RB I am happy to work with clients on any custom requests--even if they seem outlandish--whether for Judaica or housewares. Also, all of my pieces can be custom engraved and many can be embellished with metal work.
I have made framed family trees, meshaberach cards with 3 generations of names, even door handles. I constantly create new styles of mezuzot, ketubot and challah boards.
KE What’s in the Rafi Bernstein art pipeline?
RB I am excited to have recently started making tables. I am currently finishing up an amazing live edge, black walnut coffee table. I also hope to begin work on a traveling Aron Kodesh (Torah Ark) in the near future.
KosherEye is thrilled to announce that Rafi is partnering with us on a giveaway. The giveaway winner will be able to collaborate with Rafi, and design an acrylic mezuzah case from Rafi’s collection. Visit his website or Facebook page and check out the choices. What a perfect gift yourself or gift others choice…for a wedding, new home or special occasion.
See Rafi's designs:
Instagram: @rafiber @impressionjudaica
The Giveaway winner will receive a code for a FREE Design Your Own Mezuzah and 10% off additional items from Rafi's site DesignAMezuzah.com. The winner can choose the colors for their own acrylic mezuzah case which Rafi will put together and ship to him/her. Klaf/scroll not included.
Free Giveaway: Win an Acrylic Mezuzah Case
The lucky winner is Henny Brener, Aventura Florida
Giveaway is limited to continental U.S. only. If not living in continental U.S, you may still enter and, if selected, "gift" your prize to a continental U.S. friend or relative. The winner will be notified by email. Once notified, the winner must respond within 48 hours or the prize will be awarded to the runner-up. This giveaway ended on October 9, 2017.
Question: If you were the winner, what color mezuzah would you choose?