BY AMY LEVINE KENNEDY, CURATOR
Our winter exhibition showcases the images of photographers documenting the diverse communities that coexist and collaborate in Israel today, as well as the moving work of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The show, on generous loan from the Bernard Museum of Temple Emanuel and the JDC, mirrors the journey of its photographers to distinctly harmonious Israeli programs, where they focus on the work of individuals and pluralistic cultures that call Israel home.
We see the Edible Gardens Initiative project in Kiryat Gat, which invites at-risk children out of the classroom and into a JDC Green Schoolyard for hands-on learning, building its own crop of strong Israelis of the future. We see a Bedouin community school in Lakiya that aims to empower its girls and women who traditionally live isolated domestic lives. The program, the Desert Embroidery Project, encourages women to market their embroidery (an acceptable activity for women in their culture) and teaches them to market it to support themselves and their families.
JDC pioneers programs that address Israel’s low employment rates of Arab women, and is instrumental in making it more acceptable for them to join the workforce by giving them a culturally-adapted setting to pursue employment. We get a look at programs in Haifa aimed at inclusivity for people with disabilities, aiming to enable them to enter the workforce. Over the 70 plus years of Israel’s existence, the nation has brought people with disabilities out of institutional settings into the mainstream.