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2018-10-05 digital edition
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October 5, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Synagogue to erect sculpture in memory of Weiss family

Artist’s depiction of Memorial Sculpture project Artist’s depiction of Memorial Sculpture project A Tampa Bay artist with national acclaim, Donald Gialanella, has been selected to create his sculpture, Love Heart, in memory of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Leslie Weiss and their children Hannah and Ari – to be erected at Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg, the synagogue the Weiss family called their spiritual home.

The Weiss family perished on New Year’s Eve when a small plane they were aboard crashed while they were on vacation in Costa Rica. Their deaths shocked the Tampa Bay Jewish community, as well as family members and former fellow congregants they had known in Philadelphia.

Mitch, 52, a radiologist, and Leslie, 50, a pediatrician, both practiced at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater. Ari, 16, a student at Shorecrest Preparatory School, was a talented musician and Hannah,19 was a sophomore at Columbia University, where she was studying sustainable development and Jewish ethics. Hannah and Ari had also spent summers at Camp Ramah Darom in north Georgia.

Donald Gialanella working on his sculpture “Love Heart” Donald Gialanella working on his sculpture “Love Heart” In an outpouring for the family who touched so many lives, more than 1,000 mourners packed B’nai Israel for a memorial service 10 days after the tragedy.

The artist was selected in a Tampa Bay “Call to Artists” request for proposals, promoted through six artist associations. The award for creation of the sculpture utilizes funds donated by friends and loved ones in memory of the Weiss family to Congregation B’nai Israel.

Overseeing the sculpture selection and installation is the Weiss Sculpture Committee led by Susan Marger LeVine. The synagogue’s board of trustees unanimously approved the committee’s sculpture artist selection of Gialanella.

Gialenella’s Love Heart is a stainless steel memorial to the Weiss family. The sculpture is a touchstone for remembrance and compassion. It stands approximately 6½ feet tall and 6½ wide and is made of marine grade stainless steel (impervious to weathering and discoloration).

Love Heart is made up of many layers of stainless bands welded together to form the final shape. Gialanella noted the exterior bands are uneven yet the negative space in the center forms a perfect heart shape.

The finished sculpture will be transported from Gialanella’s St. Petersburg studio for installation before the end of the year.

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