Growing up outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and attending Jewish day school, Andrew Galitzer was deemed a “doodler” by his rabbi, who insisted that if Galitzer were to draw in class, he should at least draw something Jewish.
In the sixth grade, Galitzer heeded his rabbi’s advice. He began drawing comics from the weekly Torah portion, a practice that he would continue to hone through high school and
Now 20, Galitzer, a Drexel University freshman, has gone from amateur to author, as he completes the final stages of a book deal for his comic compilation “Torah Comics,” which will be published by Israel-based Gefen Publishing House in the coming year.
“It brings the Torah and Judaism to so many more people and gives them access to it, whereas before, I might have just thought of it as just some drawings I made,” Galitzer said.
Though drawing “Torah Comics” since middle school, Galitzer didn’t turn his hobby into a business until eighth or ninth grade, when he began sending his Torah comics — redrawn year-after-year as he became more technically skilled — to his school and shul, charging a small licensing fee for them to reprint the comics in their newsletters or Shabbat announcements.
In high school, “Torah Comics” found its way far from its birthplace of Hollywood, Florida.
“The Jewish community is so interconnected,” Galitzer said. “It just went from there to New York and then Maryland, and then it went all the way to Israel.”
“Torah Comics” is now published weekly by more than 30 organizations internationally, including in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. More than 30 families have individual subscriptions to the comics
Galitzer runs his “Torah Comics” distribution through AndiDrew.com, a domain name that shares his “AndiDrew” brand he created in the fourth grade, when he created an Instagram account under the same name.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurship mindset, and I’ve always been very into business,” Galitzer said.
In addition to “Torah Comics,” Galitzer offers logo and graphic design commissions and art classes for kids, which began in the early days of the pandemic. It was something for which Galitzer had an established passion.
“I’ve always thought from a young age that I wanted to go into teaching kids instead of just drawing, myself,” he said.
Religious schools hired Galitzer to teach art during class; parents hired him for birthday parties. He taught an average of 30-50 children per session.
On Tisha B’Av last year, Galitzer hosted a virtual drawing class, recruiting from previous synagogues and parents with whom he had previously worked. His Zoom class was attended by more than 1,000 students.
But Galitzer said he still prioritizes quality over quantity: He doesn’t just want to teach children how to draw; he wants his art to make a difference in the way people perceive Jews.
“All art should have a purpose — even if it’s just to be aesthetically pleasing,” Galitzer said. “Particularly, I found Jewish activism to be my inspiration for many of my pieces.”
As a high school senior, Galitzer submitted a comic to grassroots organization Combat Anti-Semitism’s art competition, where he won the Emma Lazarus Art Award. With the pervasive “Never Again” theme in mind, he created a comic on Jewish resilience, spanning from Chanukah’s origin to the 2019 Poway synagogue shooting.
Even since graduating high school and taking a gap year in Israel to study at Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi in Jerusalem, Galitzer’s perspective on his art has changed.
“The biggest thing that changed for me was my connection to Judaism as a religion and just how my identity has grown,” Galitzer said. “I don’t view the comics anymore as small drawings I was doing on the side and making money off of; I view them now as a passion of mine.”
But as a college student studying engineering tech-
nology, Galitzer has to work harder than ever finding time between classes, teaching art classes — now in-person — and his involvement in Drexel Hillel and Chabad and Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania.
“All of that definitely does take a lot of time,” Galitzer said. “But I always make time to draw.” l