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November 23, 2016 8:07 am

Traveling to Israel Through Art

avatar by Jonathan Greenstein

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Attendees at the Passage to Israel exhibit. Photo: Jonathan Greenstein.

Attendees at the Passage to Israel exhibit. Photo: Jonathan Greenstein.

I delayed my first visit to Israel until my eldest son could don his tefillin for the first time at the Western Wall. By then, I was 40 years old.

When all seven members of my family and I landed and disembarked from the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport, I found myself crying uncontrollably. Neither my father nor grandfathers had been to Israel during their lifetimes.

I, on the other hand, have been back 20 times since then, and I’ve become an advocate for anything related to the Jewish state.

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During that first trip, my family and I were typical American tourists. We viewed the country from north to south, from east to west, and fell in love with every grain of sand. There is something in Jewish DNA that attaches us to the land. Yet even without this emotional bond, the sheer physical beauty of the place was captivating.

This mixture of physical and emotional beauty is captured in the current exhibition, “Passage to Israel,” at the Anderson Contemporary Art Gallery.

My wife and I attended, not only because we love Israel, but because we have long been fans of Jewish  reggae rock star Matisyahu, who was partly the inspiration for the exhibit.

Some of the 34 photographers whose works are on display and divided into the four categories of “land,” “light,” “life” and “soul” are better known than others. It was wonderful to see that they hailed from different races, religions, genders and regions — as did their pictures.

The intricate fabric of Israeli society is also shown through photos of haredi children, gay-pride-parade marchers and others. I highly recommend it.

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