On the third floor of Montreal’s Lubavitch Yeshiva, a giant mural depicting a map of the world with flags pinned to the location of each Chabad Yeshiva was recently unveiled. The mural was made up of 7500 bottle caps and took six months to complete.
The mural is the brainchild of Zohara Hirschhorn, who last summer decided to open an afternoon art program for five and six year olds. While browsing Pinterest for ideas, she came across photos of murals made from bottle caps. “That’s when I thought it would make a nice school project for all ages, uniting for one common goal – the mural,” said Hirschhorn.
Hirschhorn approached Lubavitch Yeshiva’s principal Rabbi Yosef Chaytan who approved of the project as it would beautify the school.
At the end of June, Hirschhorn mapped out a plan of action and asked several boys from the Lubavitch Yeshiva and girls from Beth Rivkah to start collecting bottle caps. Word spread quickly through the community, and soon children of all ages would show up at her door with caps of all colours and sizes, from metal Snapple bottle caps to plastic orange juice caps. “In the summer it was easier to find bottle caps because everyone was regularly drinking water,” noted Hirschhorn. “After two months of summer, we counted our bottle caps and discovered that we had collected over 6000 caps!”
Some of the caps she received were very dirty, and one child handed her some muddy beer bottle caps that he had found in the park. Each cap was washed thoroughly with soap. The next step was to separate the bottle caps by colour, with each collection stored in shoe boxes.
Hirschhorn also contacted several companies, informing them of her project and asking for bottle caps. Naya natural bottled spring water decided to partially sponsor the mural and sent 60 cases of waterbottles for the children to drink while working on the mural. Overall, more than 7500 bottle caps were collected.
While the boys separated the bottle caps, Hirschhorn planned the content of the mural together with Chavi Russ, deciding to go with a map of the world with small flags at the location of each Lubavitch Yeshiva. “At the top I decided to write the name of the schools – Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim – which had been founded by the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe in the Russian town of Lubavitch and now has branches all over the world,” explained Hirschhorn. “At the bottom I decided to write the words Neiros Leha’ir (candles that shine outward) being that it says in Hayom Yom (a book of daily Torah study compiled by the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe) that children are Neiros Leha’ir.”
In September, Hirschhorn went out and purchased some wood. The after school art program opened with children painting a white background on the wood. Then, using a projector, Hirschhorn and her husband Moshe traced the image onto the wood. Boys from grade pre-1A to grade 6 started painting the actual mural after which they were ready to start gluing the bottle caps on the mural. A different group of boys, ranging from ages five to twelve, helped glue the caps on. “The mural was kept in a classroom where I held my after school program,” said Hirschhorn. “Children would come to work on it during recess time when most of their friends were out playing ball.”
When the mural was ready, Shaul Gotkin mounted it on the wall and covered it with plexiglass to protect it from damage in order for it to be a permanent fixture on the third floor of the Yeshiva.
“The goal was to bring a sense of pride to the boys,” said Hirschhorn. “Ultimately, they all feel very proud to be part of the Yeshiva.”
The mural is up just in time for PTA, when parents of all the Yeshiva boys will get an opportunity to see it. For now, Hirschhorn is getting ready for her next project. “Rabbi Charytan asked me to do another art project with grade three boys to beautify the school,” concluded Hirschhorn. “The plan for now is to make another mural out of paint showing all the Brachos and to hang it up in the lunchroom.”