Located in the heart of Jerusalem and with a unique view of the Old City walls, Bloomfield Garden is one of the largest green areas in the city, offering vast lawns, secluded paths and play areas, as well as several monuments and art installations, including the Fountain of the Lions donated by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1989. On Tuesday, another piece of artwork found its home on its laws: the bronze statue “The Lion of Judah” by American artist Max Greiner.
The statue was donated to Israel by a group of evangelical leaders, but it took some years to find an appropriate location. The stalemate was resolved after Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum ran into former US congresswoman Michele Bachmann at an event about a year ago, as Hassan-Nahoum told The Jerusalem Post during the installation of the monument.
“She asked me to help resolve the problem, and as the head of the Public Art Committee of the city I looked into it,” she said. “It was not simple, we had to have the statue approved and then we had to find a location. Many were proposed but I strongly felt that this statue needed to be in a park, because it represents a lion and to have some iconic view of the Old City. Finally, we selected this spot.
The Lion of Jerusalem
“This statue is a symbol of friendship between the evangelical community and the people of Israel. The Lion of Judah represents the glory and the strength of the Jewish people and to get a gift like that in Jerusalem, our eternal capital from the Christian community is very special. I think it represents the essence of building connections with our friends around the world,” the deputy mayor added.
The monument was going to be officially inaugurated during the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast at the beginning of June, but the event has been postponed because of the coronavirus emergency.
In the meantime, the 2.74 m. by 1.22 m. bronze lion has already been installed, and can be viewed by visitors to the park.
“Max Greiner is a very well-known artist in the Christian world,” said Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, a very active figure in the Christian-Jewish relations, who was involved in the initiative. “When you travel in different cities in the world, you see public sculptures that sometimes have been standing there for hundreds of years and they are part of the permanent landscape of the city. Knowing that we are involved in a project that will be part of the landscape of the city of Jerusalem representing the friendship between the Christian Zionist community in America and the people of Israel is very meaningful.”
Wolicki explained that the artist meant for the statue to be touched and played with.
“This is a bronze statue built for the elements, it’s not something that gets ruined. When I met Greiner in the Texas city of Kerrville where there is an exact replica of it a few months ago, I asked him about how he had modeled the face of the lion, whose beauty had especially impressed me. He explained that he wanted it to look strong but not intimidating and therefore he carefully designed the expression, conveying strength and majesty but also softness and love. In my opinion, this is exactly the image that we as the people of Israel strive to and most times achieve, projecting strength but also compassion and love.”