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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unmasked : The Ariella Dadon Story

This past June, following a struggle spanning several years, 28 year old Ariella Dadon managed to receive a get (a Jewish divorce) from her violent, abusive husband.

“Unmasked: The Ariella Dadon Story” is her poignant story.

Illustrated by rising cartooning star (of David) Chari Pere, the 3-page online comic (which may be read in Hebrew or English) has attracted quite a bit of attention in cyberspace.

Shemspeed calls it "poignant".

Jewlicious calls Chari a "cartoonist extraordinaire".

Occasional Superheroine notes that "Pere draws Ariella with a cracked 'happy face' mask during her unhappy marriage and unsuccessful attempts to get away from her husband, and it is a haunting and devastating motif."

Mike Lynch calls it "a cautionary tale".

My Machberet writes that it is "utterly absorbing".

e Jewish Philanthropy considers it to be an "empowering tale".

At the "Jews and Comics" panel of the Facebook Comic Con, Chari talked about working on the comic. I've pasted her comments below for those who don't have Facebook access.

I met Inbal Freund-Novick last summer, when I attended the 2008 PresenTense Institute Fellowship in Jerusalem. It was a 6-week fellowship program for young social entrepreneurs who have ideas on how to positively impact the Jewish community, and ultimately the world as a whole. I had been accepted into the fellowship to work on my company, Hey Yiddle Diddle Productions (, which bridges the gap between generations and denominations by revitalizing old Jewish humor through fresh, fun cartoons, products, and modern media. Inbal was a 2007 PresenTense Institute Steering Committee member who had previously received grant money from another organization for a comic to raise awareness about Agunot (women who cannot receive a Jewish divorce from their husbands).

As a personal mission, I try to use my cartooning “powers” for good and meaningful projects. I’ve completed coloring books for children with diabetes, and am working on such projects as a comic book for elementary school kids on how to defend themselves against bullies. When Inbal pitched the Ariella Dadon comic idea to me, I absolutely loved it. Although my first passion is making people laugh (be it with me or AT me), I also use the negative experiences in my life and in the world to create inspirational works that can help people see the light out of darkness. “Unmasked: The Ariella Dadon Story" is truly the embodiment of those same ideals.

Ariella doesn’t have a computer in her house in Southern Israel, so Inbal brought a laptop with a wireless connection, so that the three of us were able to spend 2 1/2 hours talking through Skype. I understand Hebrew pretty well – I do have 12 years of excellent Jewish education from Brooklyn’s Yeshivah of Flatbush under my belt– but if you don’t use the language you lose it. And I am certainly unfamiliar with the contemporary Israeli vernacular. So Ariella told her story to us in Hebrew, and Inbal translated everything she said into English so that I didn’t miss a detail. After Inbal and I completed the script, Inbal translated the comic back into Hebrew. I did the layout and illustration, and chose the color scheme – which was based on the Mavoi Satum’s logo (Mavoi Satum is the organization that helped Ariella get her ‘Get’, or Jewish divorce papers). And voilĂ , the comic was born!

The response has been overwhelmingly positive from everyone of all backgrounds, faiths, and denominations. I’m really, really proud of “Unmasked”, and hope that it sparks even greater causes and projects.

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