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Jewish Neighbors group unveils 1st section of mosaic mural

GENEVA – A mosaic featuring a white dove of peace, a brown dove and the Hebrew greeting “Shalom” will be the first section of a mural being created by the Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors in Geneva.

Members of the group and the Geneva Foundation for the Arts attended the unveiling of the first part Thursday in the walkway between the Neighbors’ office at 121 S. Third St., and the Geneva History Museum, 113 S. Third St.

Volunteers are continuing to create the next sections, which eventually will be hung on the wall in the walkway, said Greg Cibura, president of the Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors.

“It’s our 10-year anniversary,” Cibura said. “We decided we wanted to give back to the community that has given us so much and has been so kind to us. And we figured a nice way to do that would be to create this mural as the universal values of the area. It has a river running through it. It has giving themes attached to it and peace.”

The mural was designed by artist Danielle Dobies, neighbors said.

The mosaic mural will be near the Peace Pole just outside the group’s door – a pole with the message, “May peace be in our homes and communities,” in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Algonquin and Swedish.

“Shalom is hello and goodbye,” Cibura said. “It is used mainly as a greeting. It’s a sign of peace and welcoming to the community.”

From 6 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday, and from 9 to 11 a.m. or noon every Sunday, volunteers come to work on the sections of the mural, Cibura said.

All are welcome to participate in the creation of the next sections, he said.

“You just show up, and we will teach you how to cut tile,” Cibura said. “We have gloves. We have protection material for eyes. We put some music on, and we put it together.”

Also as part of the unveiling, Kent Gallagher, president of the Geneva Foundation for the Arts, presented a check for $1,000 to the Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors as a grant in support of the mosaic mural project.

“They applied for a grant, and we approved of it,” Gallagher said. “And we are giving them two checks for $1,000 each – one now and one upon completion to help with the expenses.”

Mim Evans, a member of the Neighbors group, said the grant will cover about half the cost of materials, with the rest coming from members’ donations. Donations from the public are welcome through the group’s website,

As sections are completed, they will be displayed in a vacant storefront at 17 S. Third St., Evans said.

The mirror for the mosaic was donated by E&T Glass and Mirror, and tile was donated by The Tile Shop, both in Geneva. But in addition to the tile and mirror, Neighbors member Alysa Hwalisz said the artist asked participants to contribute a piece of China from home.

“To be broken and included,” Hwalisz said. “For posterity.”

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