Rebecca Wittler marks her son’s death with a rare painting and moving twist of fate
Arik Frankenthal died in 1994, aged 19, after he was abducted and then killed by Hamas activists. His father, and Ms Wittler's ex-husband, Yitzhak Frankenthal, subsequently founded the Bereaved Families' Forum, an organisation of Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children to terrorism.
Following their son's death, Ms Wittler did not paint for more than ten years. She had been doing so on the evening when he died. But she has recently taken up her brush again, and last week she decided to submit one of her works for a future exhibition being held by the art society at the Mall Gallery in London. She had been unaware that the exhibition would be taking place next Tuesday - Arik's yahrzeit .
"It is so strange that the first time I am showing a painting in an English gallery is on his yahrzeit," Ms Wittler, who is in her early 50s, tells People. "Arik loved the fact that I painted. The coincidence made me feel that he was trying to let me know that he was close."
Born in Manchester, Ms Wittler, who paints under her Hebrew name Rebecca Bat-Raphael, moved to Israel at 17. She studied at the High School for Art in Tel Aviv and completed an art-history degree at Tel Aviv University before teaching evening classes there. After her son's death, she built websites. Her first was Arkline.com, established in memory of Arik. She returned to the UK in 2000 and now lives in Chingford.
Her painting, Patience, showing two ladies making lace, is on show at the Mall Galleries,
London SW1, from July 29 until August 2 (www.mallgalleries.org.uk)