The son of an Israeli nuclear physicist, the artist Hanan Harchol moved to the United States with his family when he was two years old. And it’s his father’s accent that Harchol impersonates and argues with in these two humorous and enlightening animated shorts for the High Holy Days. 

But, these illustrated videos mining a deeper understanding of the Jewish concepts of teshuva (repentance) and slicha (forgiveness), Harchol says, weren’t inspired by a personal sense of devotion or religiosity. Just the opposite, in fact. The requirements of the project stipulated that he immerse himself in the texts, and through studying them he reevaluated the essence and spirit of Jewish teachings he had ignored or rejected for many years:

“I spent my life gravitating towards, and making, narrative art that explores the human condition from a psychological, philosophical, and existential perspective. While Judaism offers thousands of years of wisdom on the human condition, I avoided it as a source because of what I perceived to be its preachy, judgmental, and shaming tone.

Then, in 2009, I was commissioned to create a short artistic animation that interpreted the eating of bitter herbs during Passover. As part of the project, I was mandated to participate in a monthly Jewish study group under the leadership of a dynamic and brilliant rabbi named Leon Morris. To my surprise, I discovered that the human themes we were discussing and wrestling with in the study group were precisely the kind I had always been exploring in my personal artmaking. Even the process itself of sitting around a table, debating and wrestling with these human concepts (a process I did regularly with my friends and in my artmaking) proved to be a fundamental part of the Jewish study and learning process.

I became filled with questions about how much my Jewish heritage had influenced how I was raised, how I behaved, how I thought, and even who I was as a person and an artist. What I discovered was a wealth of wisdom. Within the Jewish texts were crucial teachings and lessons that applied as much to our contemporary lives as they did when they were written. By avoiding the Jewish writings because of their religious nature and tone, I was missing out on thousands of years of deep thought and study on the human condition itself. I had thrown the baby out with the bath water.”

Share Your Reflection



Thank you for such a thought-provoking beginning to my day.

We are so glad to be reaching a larger number of people with this work. Mr. Harchol's illustrations are really well done, and we're fortunate he reached out to us!

Would that the state of Georgia's Pardon and Parole Board had a good Jewish father. Look at the contrast between the victim's families of yesterday's two executions.The Byrd's in Texas somehow found the will to forgive, the McPhail's in Georgia did not.    

Thanks for posting these...a great shot in the arm. 

Yes, victims and their families have very different reactions. I caution myself against judging those who do not sway to my inclinations but rather marvel at the mystery of those people who can forgive in the light of violent tragedy. Absolutely remarkable.

Wonderful work, thank you for sharing with the world!  Incredible to see how others hassle with the same reasonings as we do, I could almost hear myself!

Our pleasure. There is something familiar in the struggle for many of us, isn't there?

These animations are SO rich in Jewish ideas and debate, and I love how Hanan Harchol manages to entertain, educate, stimulate, and challenge, all at the same time!  The fact that he's not a long-time yeshiva bocher (Jewish scholar) and that he draws on his family's stories make his work even more fascinating.  I'd love to hear you interview him, Krista!

This is a suggestion for Trent Gilliss or another member of the team. I learned about these animations from listening to Opening Up Windows where they were mentioned. But it took quiet some effort to dig them out. It would be awesome if the direct link could be posted on the show page. Thanks a lot for an amazing work you all are doing! Blessings.

Marianna, thank you for the suggestion.

I'm not on Facebook nor Twitter, but I wanted to share this message with so many people, young and old. Then I realized the message at this time is for ME. May my actions save me and deliver the message to others through my actions.

It's beautiful. May those rich accents and wisdom from a previous generation be every enshrined in our hearts and in such rememberances...

A friend sent me this as I was preparing to do a presentation on forgiveness to people living with cancer.  This is such an important clip and every ounce of it is true.  Forgivness is in many ways a gift we give ourselves.  Thank you for the time and effort that went into making this.  One thing that i might add - can we each forgive ourselves for the things that we cannot yet forgive?  Along these lines is a powerful PBSdocumentary called the Power of Forgiveness which is well worth a watch.. claire

Thank you, Hanan Harchol and the Being folks for this post. Today I read a letter in my local newspaper in which a man was presenting the meaning of the Holy Days in a completely opposite way. I didn't understand because I don't know much about the Jewish religion. Your post and wonderful animated stories so beautifully present the practice of forgiveness. I recognize myself, and I recognize the letter writer, and I recognize the universality of the teaching of forgiveness and it's power to heal.

forgiveness=peace  within us 
 How can Peace on Earth ever be accomplished if people continue to not choose forgiveness?  It seems
power, money and winning are more important than anything else.

These are just wonderful. I've never heard the concept of repair explained so eloquently before. Thank you so much!

The richness of Jewish thought is that they are universal in scope. Thus people from all walks of life can appreciate them because they are mirrored in their own religious tradition.

this is really great !

Absolutely brilliant! Thank you for sharing your wonderful work with the world!

I found this to be a truly creative, entertaining yet profound video with much thought for me.

excellent,very informative!

Universal - I am not Jewish but it doesn't matter - wisdom is wisdom. My 24 year old son was mesmerized, quietly listening, chuckling... very creative...
thank you.