Photographs in this exhibit were taken by the 25 student members of israel.cleveland.next (icnext) Cohort 4, during their IsraelMission in June of 2016. Creating and curating this exhibit is one of their leadership engagement projects. The exhibit will travel to various educational settings throughout our community, and students will act as exhibit docents, engaging and educating those who see it about Israel. icnext is a unique 2-year program that educates a dedicated group of Cleveland’s Jewish 10th and 11th graders to become the next generation of Israel advocates in high school and on their college campuses. icnext prepares…Israel advocates,… and Jewish leaders.
During the 2 years participants have seminars, an exchange program with teens from Beit Shean/Emek HaMayanot, a 10-day fact-finding trip to Israel, and ultimately are leading educational and cultural activities designed to build understanding and support for the state of Israel.
icnext is a project of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland administered through @akiva.
For an application or information about our current Cohort, contact Tina Keller at 216.367.1388, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Some people say that the eyes are the windows to our soul, and the soul is the key to our identity. A photograph captures what our eyes see, and expands that vision. When we pick up a camera we are no longer limited to seeing just with our eyes, we are experiencing the world in a whole new light, using this medium to share that view.
During the June, 2016 Israel Mission, our photographs captured the purest form of identity: food. What makes food a part of our identity is simple. We are what we eat. Our food is a reflection of our culture, of our surroundings and of our nature. With camera in hand, and a multitude of different foods to try out, we traveled Israel documenting as many identities as we could…
I have a confession to make. Speaking for myself and probably most of my cohort members, I can honestly say that going into this program, I was tricked. No, not tricked into the monthly seminars, but I was tricked into believing that the theme of our program and of our trip really was ‘food’. Now, looking back on this blur of a year, I’m so thankful to have been tricked. What we all soon discovered was that rather than food actually being the theme of our year, it was the device that Amnon and Tina sneakily used to gain our attention. I mean who isn’t interested in food? Anyway, we used food as a tool for digging deeper into the matter of Israeli identity and how Israel can really be defined. Identity is an extremely important piece of past and present Israel, and the nation that we all know and love is shaped by millions of unique identities. No two people have the same identity, and using our original topic of food, along with the photography skills we learned during the seminars, we made it our duty to capture the greatest possible range of Israeli identities.
We focused in on the following six categories suggested to us by Dr. Guy Ben-Porat (although we are aware that there are many, many more factors that make up this complicated concept):
Spectrum of Jewish Religion – Most Jews or Jewish families practice Judaism in their own way on a broad spectrum of Jewish practices, but in Israel the vast majority of Jews identify as simply either orthodox or secular. Laws regarding army, workforce and taxes among others are modified in an attempt to respect the orthodox and their practice; however, this has caused noticeable tension and divide between the two groups.
Economic Class – The wage gap grows increasingly large in Israel as bosses and owners of companies are making more and more while workers are making less and less. This is causing a deepening divide among citizens and tension within the nation as a whole.
Political stand on the conflict – Among many unsettled Issues that the Israeli government and the world faces, the future of the relationship between Israelis and the Palestinians is a very significant one. There are some Israelis who lean leftward and are willing to compromise with the Palestinians by giving up some land with the possibility of a two-state solution, and there are others who lean to the right believing that Israel is the Promised Land for the Jewish and that no compromise can be made on the matter. Clearly, this is another source of tension within the nation as they attempt to address this major issue.
Jewish vs. Non-Jewish – The world is very aware that Israel is “The Jewish State”; however, more than twenty percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and Jerusalem is a holy land for two other religions (Islam and Christianity) as well. It is very important for Israel to find the proper balance of continuing to show pride in being a Jewish State while also honoring and respecting the other religions represented within the state.
Ethnicity – Jews returned to Israel from many different diasporas. While these groups hold the same values and beliefs as Jews, they have different histories and stories of how they came to the land of Israel. This often leads to different lifestyles and causes ethnic divides as Israelis seem to flock towards those whose histories and lifestyles are similar to their own.
Center vs. Periphery – The majority of the Israeli population is settled in a 62 mile strip of land along the Mediterranean coastline in the center of the country. In the middle of this strip is the urban center of Tel Aviv and other larger cities. However, many Israelis live on the periphery of the country. Those Israelis live in Kibbutzim, development towns and Moshavim. These two lifestyles are very different, creating unique identities and the potential for a clash of cultures.
Looking through the lens of these six categories, with food as the subject, our cohort has used photography as a way of documenting a new understanding of Israeli identities. Reviewing all the pictures we took during our trip, and deciding which ones went into each category, was a long and tedious process. However, we understood that with a lesson as important as ours, the time was well spent in producing categories that appear exactly as we envisioned. This exhibit is an attempt to present our new visual understanding of Israeli identities to the Cleveland community.
Now please go and enjoy our exhibit!
icnext Cohort 4: Sarah Borow, Allison Cohen, Hannah Cutrona, David Gold, Sam Greene, Noa Immerman, Erica Kahn, Hannah Kornblut, Jessica Linden, Rosalind Madorsky, Adam Marcus, Leah Marek, Zachary Nosanchuk, Shira Ophir, Shai Paz, Rachel Podl, Samantha Rose, Jonah Ross, Lilly Rothschild, Jonah Rubanenko, Caleb Segar, Ellie Shafron, Dalia Socher, Arielle Sternberg and Gabrielle Sudilovsky.