By LEORA GOLDBERG
For most of us, a rose is a beautiful flower that blossoms on bushes amid thorns. For blacksmith Yaron Bob, it can blossom out of a Kassam rocket.
A 38-year-old art teacher, Bob has spent the last year molding missiles fired into Israel by Hamas into metal roses.
Bob lives on Moshav Yated in the western Negev, situated on the border where Israel, Egypt and Gaza meet.
During Operation Cast Lead, Bob had an urge to create something out of the missiles that had been falling for eight years.
In the eyes of the world, Israel is often looked upon negatively, and it is highly important to him to show who Israelis really are.
"Israel doesn't just throw rockets [at] people. And when they are thrown [at] us, I turn them into roses," he said last week. "It is powerfully meaningful when a missile that is used for killing is turned into a sign of beauty, growth and prosperity."
So far, Bob has produced approximately 150 roses, using Kassams the Israel Police have stored. With only the assistance of a hammer, anvil and stove, Bob molds them completely by himself, taking about three hours per rose. Every rose is welded onto a metal base shaped like a map of Israel, showing the location where the Kassam fell.
As Bob has sold the roses through his Web site, mostly to American Jews, he's continued to make more.
"It's people from abroad, who have the rose in their lounge, that makes me happy. This is my contribution to Israel," he said.
In October, two US immigrants - Chaim Pinsky and Michael Gerbitz - met Bob and loved his idea. They decided to use "roses from Kassams" as a tool to promote solidarity among Israel supporters.
Through a joint venture with Operation Lifeshield, a firm that provides Israeli communities with air raid shelters, the roses are being marketed to North Americans, with the proceeds going to build shelters for the residents of Ashkelon. The prices of shelters range between $19,000 and $36,000.
"Our goal is to raise $250,000 by selling 5,000 roses at the price of $225 to $275 per rose," Pinsky explained. At least $50 dollars from each purchase goes towards the shelters, he added.
"Our attempt is to make a peaceful, better future," Pinsky said. "The message is clear: Take a rocket, a sign of destruction and despair, and transform it into a beautiful rose - our symbol of hope and tranquility."
The roses have already been presented to US Senator John Kerry, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Having the rose in Clinton's or the UN secretary's lounge puts Israel at the top of their thoughts," said Bob.
A rose will also be presented to Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin on Sunday, in a ceremony to announce and commit to the new project.
The English Web site, Rockets into Roses, can be found at www.rocketsintoroses.com.
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