New Photography Exhibition Takes Intimate Look at Holy Land’s Hidden and Diverse Communities

Bnei Brak is one of the most densely-populated Haredi communities in Israel, where innovative workforce programs and educational initiatives are a main focus of JDC. Photo Credit: Joel Katz/JDC.

A new photographic exploration of Israel’s hidden and diverse communities will be on display in a new exhibition, Home: Lens on Israel, at Temple Emanu-El’s Bernard Museum, April 25 through November 21, 2018. Marking the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, the exhibition features the work of seven photographers who journeyed through Israel in November of 2016 with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The results – portraits of stunning candor and emotional impact – reflect the lives touched by JDC’s social impact work in Israel. Home: Lens on Israel photographers include Gary O. Aidekman; Elaine Goldman; Elizabeth Ann Kahane; Ruth Oratz; Hollis Rafkin-Sax; Annie Sandler, Orna Stern, Eli Atias, Ilan Cohen, Amir Halevy, and Joel Katz.

“It’s been incredibly exciting to be part of the creation of this meaningful exhibition, a powerful and unmediated presentation of those on the margins of society in Israel. Neither idealized nor fetishized, these populations are brought to life through a group of photographers whose passion and feeling for their subjects are apparent and moving,” said Warren Klein, curator of the Bernard Museum and guest curator Yael Eban.

Women in the Druze village of Yanuch-Jat knit for a local shop that specializes in handmade goods to support themselves and their families. Photo Credit: Gary O. Aidekman/JDC.

The exhibition – which unfolds over the course of seven months, with a rotating roster of photographs focusing on seven distinctive communities – opens with a focus on Israel’s elderly, including Holocaust survivors, who participated in the founding of the State. Subsequent rotations include the photographer’s visits with Israeli Arab and Bedouin communities; immigrant children from Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union, North Africa and beyond; the Haredi or ultra-Orthodox community; Druze villages in Israel’s north; Israeli adults with disabilities; and a family celebration for Israelis of Moroccan Jewish descent, another symbol of Israel’s multifaceted population.

“The focus of our photographic mission was to celebrate people who are geographically and socially on the periphery in Israel,” said Elizabeth Kahane, one of the Home photographers, who together with her husband William, provided lead support for the exhibit. “By allowing us into their homes and lives, they enabled us to present the hidden greatness of Israel. As artists and human beings we were transformed by this trip, which exposed us not only to JDC’s innovative solutions to Israeli social challenges, but the overwhelming power to change lives for the better through their interventions.”


A young Bedouin girl rides her bicycle in the village in the Negev. Photo Credit: Ruth Oratz, MD/JDC.

The Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica is located at Temple Emanu-El at 1 East 65th Street, New York, NY. Admission for Home: Lens on Israel is free of charge.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 AM to 4:30 PM
Closed to the public on Jewish holidays. Please call (212) 744-1400, ext. 313 to arrange a tour.